The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an extension and expansion of its competitive grant funding for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Clean Diesel National Funding Assistance Program. EPA increased the total funding available from $11 million to $34 million. The program is soliciting proposals nationwide for diesel upgrade or retrofit projects that achieve significant reductions in diesel emissions, particularly from fleets operating in areas with poor air quality. In addition, clean alternative fuel conversions are now eligible.
Proposal packages must be submitted electronically to EPA through Grants.gov by July 5, 2017 (extended from June 20th), to be considered for funding.
Nonprofit organizations may apply for grant funds if they provide pollution reduction or educational services to diesel fleet owners or have, as their principal purpose, the promotion of transportation or air quality. In the past, AGC Chapters and AGC Foundations have applied for – and won – EPA grant money to help their contractor members retrofit equipment that was used on high-profile construction projects. In addition, AGC contractors have partnered with government agencies and other nonprofit institutions to make use of retrofit grants.
DERA Funding Update
In the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, the DERA program received $69 million, which is $10 million over Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 appropriated levels and a $50 million increase over President Obama's FY 2017 budget request. Since DERA authorization expired on Sept. 30, 2016, AGC and its partners in the DERA Coalition have been focused on reauthorizing the program. It is not without precedent that an unauthorized federal program continues to receive funding; however, absent an authorization, continuing to secure an annual appropriation for DERA becomes more challenging.
Looking ahead, President Trump’s “Budget Blueprint” (his request to Congress for FY 2018 appropriations) calls for the elimination of the DERA program as part of about $2 billion in cuts to the agency’s budget. AGC is working with its coalition partners to protect DERA and recently signed a letter with 20 organizations urging Congress to keep subsidies flowing for replacing or retrofitting diesel engines.
The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), codified at 42 U.S.C. 16131 et seq., authorizes EPA to offer funding assistance to eligible entities on a competitive basis. Fiscal Year 2008 was the inaugural year of funding for the DERA program, and since then EPA has awarded funds to over 690 projects to reduce diesel emissions nationwide.