D.E.R.A Overview: The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (D.E.R.A) Program funds grants and rebates that protect human health and improve air quality by reducing harmful emissions from diesel engines. D.E.R.A was created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which gave EPA new grant and loan authority for promoting diesel emission reductions and authorized appropriations of up to $200 million per year.

Established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A), D.E.R.A aims to reduce pollution from diesel engines through the implementation of varied control strategies and the involvement of national, state, and local partners. D.E.R.A includes programs for existing diesel fleets, regulations for clean diesel engines and fuels, and regional collaborations and partnerships.

GWRCCC’s D.E.R.A Program project will retire 4 municipal short-haul utility vehicles and 10 municipal off-road construction vehicles belonging to the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) and replace them with 12 vehicles operating full-time on biodiesel (B100). Implemented across 31 zip codes in Washington, DC, this project will reduce US dependence on imported petroleum, demonstrate cost-effective energy efficiency, and
improve air quality in the District and greater Washington region.

These vehicles will be equipped with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) and Optimus B100 Vector Technology and will operate full-time on B100 (100% biodiesel) except during engine startup/shut down. All vehicles will have EPA-approved engines and chassis and will include idle reduction technology.

Impacts of Diesel Emissions

As a result of E.P.A regulations, diesel engines manufactured today are cleaner than ever before. But because diesel engines can operate for 30 years or more, millions of older, dirtier engines are still in use. Diesel exhaust from these engines contains pollutants like Particulate Matter (PM), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and other Greenhouse Gases (GHG) and air toxins. Exposure to these pollutants harms human health, our environment, global climate, and environmental justice.

Human Health

Exposure to diesel exhaust can worsen existing heart and lung disease and can lead to serious health conditions like asthma and respiratory illnesses, especially in children and the elderly. These conditions can result in absences from work and school, increased numbers of emergency room visits and hospital admissions, and even premature death.


Diesel emissions contribute to the production of ground-level ozone, which damages crops and other vegetation, and acid rain, which affects soil and waterways and enters the human food chain via water, produce, meat, and fish. These emissions also contribute to reduced visibility and property damage.

Global Climate

Diesel engines create greenhouse gas (G.H.G) emissions that contribute to climate change and affect air and water quality, weather patterns, sea levels, agriculture, and ecosystems. Reducing G.H.G emissions through idle reduction strategies and improved fuel economy can help not only address climate change, but also improve our nation’s energy security and strengthen our economy.

Enviromental Justice

All people deserve the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to decision-making to maintain a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work. D.E.R.A furthers the E.P.A’s commitment to reduce the environmental and health harm caused by diesel emissions in all communities.

Diesel Alternatives

What is Biodiesel?

Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engine without modifications. Made from an increasingly diverse mix of agricultural by-products and resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil, and rendered animal fats, biodiesel is the nation’s first domestically produced, commercially available advanced biofuel. Fuel-grade biodiesel is produced to strict industry specifications to ensure proper performance.

How is Biodiesel Produced?

Biodiesel is made through a chemical process called transesterification whereby the glycerin is separated from the fat or vegetable oil. The process leaves behind two products: methyl esters—the chemical name for biodiesel—and glycerin—a byproduct used in a variety of products including soap.

What are the Benefits of Biodiesel?

Switching to biodiesel results in a multitude of health benefits at the neighborhood level, including lowering cancer risk and reducing asthma attacks, lost workdays, and premature deaths. Trinity Consultant’s 2022 study found that replacing diesel fuel with biodiesel in Washington DC alone could reduce symptoms of asthma (e.g. needing to use an inhaler) by over 13,000 incidents per year, decrease annual lost workdays by 5,700, and benefit the DC area economy by $262 million each year.

For more information on biodiesel and clean fuels, visit Clean Fuels Alliance America.