Diesel Emissions Reduction Act delivered $8B in health benefits in 10 years

Three semi trucks travel down a major road.

The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) saved 520 million gallons of diesel fuel and delivered billions of dollars in health benefits from 2008 to 2018, according to a report published by the Environmental Protection Agency.

First authorized in 2005, the DERA program provides funding to accelerate the upgrade and turnover rate of old diesel fleets. The rebates and grants available help pay for replacement vehicles and engines that meet or exceed the emissions standards.

About $801 million in funding was dedicated to replace or retrofit more than 73,700 engines or vehicles between 2008 and 2018, according to the EPA.

The EPA estimated the total lifetime value of the health benefits related to fewer air pollutants ranged from $8 billion to $8.6 billion and prevented approximately 850 fewer premature deaths from 2008 to 2018.

Based on the EPA’s estimated monetized health impacts, every dollar of funding in the DERA program reaps $10 in health benefits.

“Reducing harmful diesel emissions results in cleaner air and healthier communities, and this bipartisan legislation is delivering these benefits to communities across the nation,” Michael Regan, administrator at the EPA, said in a news release

From 2008 to 2018, DERA prevented 5.3 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. It also alleviated air pollution issues by preventing:

  • 491,000 tons of nitrogen oxides from being emitted.
  • 16,800 tons of particulate matter from being emitted.
  • 65,600 tons of carbon monoxide from being emitted.

Long-term exposure to these air pollutants can increase the risk of premature death, lung cancer, asthma, more frequent hospitalizations for heart and lung disease, developing chronic respiratory illnesses, respiratory infection and other respiratory symptoms, according to the EPA

Children and adults who play or exercise outdoors, outdoor workers and the elderly are most at risk of health complications from air pollution. About 54% of the DERA projects target areas that have air quality challenges, according to last week’s report.

“The results have been especially impactful for vulnerable communities and children, prioritizing diesel emissions reduction projects that provide health and environmental benefits to underserved and overburdened areas,” Regan said.

Read: Report: Diesel truck emissions in NYC affect people of color more

The Diesel Technology Forum said, “No other bipartisan federal program has delivered a more sustained level of clean air benefits to disadvantaged and minority communities than DERA.” 

It also said it’s one of the most inclusive programs in terms of the broad range of vehicles and equipment eligible for grants. School buses, commercial trucks, marine vessels and locomotives are some of the vehicles DERA applies to.

“We celebrate the accomplishments of the DERA program and know that there remains significant need and opportunity for continued progress in these unique sectors that only DERA is suited to address as other funding sources have emerged,” Allen Schaeffer, executive director at the Diesel Technology Forum, said in a Monday news release.

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Editor: Alyssa Sporrer