The hearing will come to order. Good afternoon and thank you all for coming.
This hearing is very special because a diverse, bipartisan group has come together to advance a policy that will significantly improve our air quality.
I am pleased to showcase this collaboration today through this hearing on S. 1265, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2005 – which is cosponsored by several members of this Committee, including Senators Carper, Inhofe, Jeffords, Isakson, Lieberman, Lautenberg, Obama, Murkowski, Clinton, Chafee, and DeMint.
Our witnesses represent the cross-section of environmental, industry, and public officials that worked together to develop this legislation. It is rare for so many different members and organizations to agree on an issue – particularly when it can make a real difference.
We will hear from federal state, and local officials – including Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Joe Koncelik – an environmental group, and engine and control technology developers and manufacturers.
We unfortunately cannot have every supporter testify, so I ask unanimous consent to insert into the record letters and testimony from several groups, ranging from Environmental Defense to Associated General Contractors of America to the National Conference of State Legislators.
The process for developing this legislation began last year when several organizations came in to meet with me. They informed me that the full benefit of EPA’s 2001 Highway and 2004 Non-road Diesel Engine rules will not be realized until 2030 because the regulations address only new engines and the estimated 11 million existing engines have long lives.
They shared with me several successful grant and loan programs – such as those in California and Texas – that have been working on a voluntary basis to retrofit diesel engines.
This intrigued me, especially because the nation’s 495 and Ohio’s 38 nonattainment counties need help to meet the new ozone and particulate matter air quality standards. We then formed a strong, diverse coalition and developed the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2005.
This bill will establish voluntary national and state-level grant and loan programs to promote the reduction of diesel emissions. It authorizes $1 billion over 5 years – $200 million annually – for the retrofitting and replacement of diesel engines.
This funding is fiscally responsible as diesel retrofits have proven to be one of the most cost-effective emissions reduction strategies. This is clear when you compare the cost effectiveness of diesel retrofits to current Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program projects:
· Per ton of Nitrogen Oxides reduced it costs on average:
o $126,400 for alternative fuel buses;
o $66,700 for signal optimization; and
o $10,500 for vanpool programs.
· This is compared to:
o $5,390 to repower construction equipment; and
o $5,000 to retrofit a transit bus.
The bottom line is that if we want to cleanup our air to improve the environment and protect public health, diesel retrofits are one of the best uses of taxpayers’ money.
The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2005 enjoys broad bipartisan support and was passed as an amendment to the energy bill by a vote of 92 to 1. However, I think the bill is too important for us to wait until the energy bill is signed into law.
I urge this Committee to act on the bill soon so that we can get it on the calendar and passed as soon as possible. I thank everyone for attending and look forward to hearing from the witnesses.