NSTA sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to support a congressional letter being circulated around the House for adequate funding of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.
The May 17th letter backs another letter recently penned by Reps. Charles Bass (R-NH) and Laura Richardson (D-CA) and delivered to the Appropriations Committee leadership. The letter says that DERA is a program that has enjoyed broad industry support, as well as the support from environmental organizations, and its is an example of an environmental program that is voluntary and works to return between $13 and $20 in benefits for every federal dollar spent on projects such as purchases of low-emission school buses and engine and tailpipe retrofits.
NSTA told members this week that the “Dear Colleague” letter also highlights that the Obama Administration chose to zero out the program to protect others that do not enjoy such broad support. The letter does not specify a targeted dollar amount for DERA but notes that Congress provided $50 million for fiscal year 2011 in the recent budget deal, which represents half of the current authorized level and the same amount provided in fiscal year 2008.
Overall, the letter asks other Members of Congress to join the effort to ensure continued funding of the DERA program.
While announcing fiscal year 2011 funding, Jim Blubaugh of the EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality told members of NASDPTS during the annual meeting held last fall in Portland, Ore., that the student transportation industry has received more federal attention than any other segment since DERA began in 2005. More than 5,500 school buses nationwide have been affected by the funding over the last several years.
A total of $49.2 million in program funds was made available to all applicants in fiscal year 2008 with that total skyrocketing to $300 million in 2009 with provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as another $120 million over fiscal years 2009 and 2010.