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Mayor adds name to diesel emissions push

Date: 6/29/2010

June 30, 2010.

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

HOLYOKE -- Mayor Elaine Pluta's support to reauthorize the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) is part of the city's over-all green strategy, she told Reminder Publications last week.

Pluta recently added her name to those of a group of mayors who are supporting an effort led by Mayor David Cicilline of Providence, R.I., to have Congress keep the measure in place.

Cicilline stated in a press release, "The benefits of federal funding from the DERA have been seen in every state, and DERA is playing an important role helping our local governments provide for the welfare of our constituents. But the program has been dramatically under-funded. That is why mayors are supporting the proposed resolution, 'Supporting Diesel Clean-Up Measures as a Near-Term Climate Change Mitigation Strategy.'"

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Web site, DERA was first authorized in 2005 by Congress as part of the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The Diesel Forum Web site defined DERA as "a voluntary national and state-level grant and loan program to reduce emissions from existing diesel engines through clean diesel retrofits.

"Emissions from older diesel vehicles and equipment can be reduced between 20 and 90 percent with cost-effective retrofit technology. The EPA estimates that if DERA is fully funded, it would reduce particulate matter emissions by 70,000 tons, generate nearly $20 billion in economic benefit, and return $13 of benefit for every one dollar invested."

Since 2005 the EPA has provided $464 million to pay for diesel retrofit projects.

Pluta said, "We has to be so vigilant about what we're doing as a city ... We want to make sure our city vehicles are environmentally friendly and not adding to our carbon footprint."

Federal funding through a renewed DERA could help Holyoke renovate its diesel fleet, she said. She would like to see the city either use no diesel or less diesel vehicles.