The Washington Post has an interesting note about the armada of diesel buses that have rolled into the nation’s capital for the Obama inauguration — and the need to clean them up.

The opportunity for the “policy change” described in the piece could be at hand as soon as the day after the inauguration, Wednesday, Jan. 21, when the House Appropriations Committee takes up the economic recovery bill. The committee already recognized the desire to include the cleanup of existing diesel engines as part of the stimulus bill. See the bottom of page 4 of the House plan [PDF], which includes $300 million for a diesel green jobs program.

It’s a good basic idea, noting that diesel cleanup would create jobs, benefit public health, and reduce global warming emissions. The only problem here is that the amount is far too little. Coal demonstration projects, by contrast, would receive eight times as much money.

And so an extraordinary coalition is urging members of both the House and the Senate to ramp up the diesel cleanup spending, to a tune of $1.5 billion dollars.

When have you ever seen the American Lung Association and the American Trucking Association on the same page?!

We understand the incoming Obama administration does support the concept of diesel cleanup as part of the stimulus package, but we haven’t tracked down a funding level.

We continue to monitor this issue closely. These would be truly “green” jobs. And diesel cleanup would not only reduce noxious fumes and the resulting lung cancer, bronchitis, asthma attacks, etc., but would also be a near-term way to do something positive about global warming by reducing heat-trapping black carbon emissions.

This could be one of the first real tests of how much appetite for change there is in the new Congress. The Bush crowd talked a good game on diesel, and did do some positive things about new diesel engines. But they were pikers when it came to putting money behind cleanup of existing engines, as were prior Congresses.