Stimulus bill includes $300 million for diesel emissions funding

| 2/2/2009

While most talk regarding the federal $819 billion stimulus package centers on construction and infrastructure, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association hopes one $300 million portion of the bill will also help small-business truckers.

House and senate versions of the stimulus package each include $300 million for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act – a historically underfunded program started years ago, which sends federal dollars toward trucking businesses to help cut emissions from idling and older truck engines.

OOIDA is part of a broad coalition of organizations that asked Congress for DERA funding for truckers.

The diesel emissions-reduction funding could help many small-business trucking companies, said Mike Joyce, OOIDA director of legislative affairs in Washington, DC.

 “This DERA program is something that helps truckers as far as being able to use some of these resources to add an APU to their truck,” Joyce said, “and it helps the environment at the same time.”

The DERA program was started years ago, although little money has been appropriated for the program, Joyce told Land Line.

Congress appropriated $50 million for the program this past year that the EPA used to fund emissions-reduction programs, including $1.13 million being administered by OOIDA for its 40 percent reimbursement program toward the cost of APU purchase and installment.

For more information on OOIDA’s APU reimbursement program, click here.

Judging by last year’s requests for diesel emissions-reductions equipment funding, plenty of truckers could use the money to meet a growing number of state and local emissions restrictions throughout the United States.

According to the DERA portion of the proposed stimulus package, funding requests for this past year’s EPA-administered $50 million “exceeded availability by 5 to 1, which demonstrates a clear national need to use this funding.”

The next wave of diesel emissions reduction funding could come quickly.

Many published reports say Congress expects the stimulus package to be approved by mid-February.

OOIDA, Joyce said, wants the $300 million to fund similar programs and help spread money to local governments that haven’t yet helped small-business truckers.

“We’re hopeful that it won’t be just distributed to certain pockets throughout the country, that there will be greater access to truckers from all over America to take part in the program,” Joyce told Land Line.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer