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March 21, 2017   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Press Release

Golden Opportunity for the Golden State: More Clean Air, Faster and Cheaper Through Investing VW Mitigation Monies in Clean Diesel Technology

Sacramento, CA – California’s effort to improve air quality with $381 million funding from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust would achieve the most immediate and cost-effective benefits for the most people with advanced clean diesel technology, according to testimony from the Diesel Technology Forum citing data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

The Forum’s written testimony was submitted in today’s joing hearing by the California Senate Transportation and Senate Environmental Quality Committee focusing on potential investments of the state’s VW Mitigation Trust funding (see below).

“In our statement today we outline how and why accelerating the turnover of older heavy-duty commercial trucks and equipment will deliver substantial clean air benefits immediately, particularly to disadvantaged communities that have not benefitted as much from the state’s other funding priorities,” said Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum.  “Truck drivers with older vehicles, contractors with older engines and equipment and others could experience a boost in economic fortunes through funding assistance in upgrading or replacing their technology to the newest and most efficient versions that they can use anywhere in the state.  In turn, clean air benefits would accrue to communities all across California, especially those located within goods movement corridors.

“California has been a leader in policies that led to the research and development which helped develop today’s clean diesel technology,” Schaeffer said.  “Unfortunately, economic conditions and the state’s own policies have created barriers for truckers to invest in the newest generation of clean diesel technology so much so that California now ranks 47th of 51 states and Washington D.C. in the percentage of new, near-zero emissions 2010 and newer clean diesel trucks on the road. Only Alaska, Maine, Arizona and Kentucky rank lower. The opportunity is now to accelerate the turnover of these older vehicles and take advantage of the immediate clean air benefits of the new, near-zero emissions diesels.

“State air regulators have said the fastest reductions in NOx emissions in 2035 won’t come from power plants or even electrification of passenger vehicles, but rather from the turnover from old-to-new commercial trucks powered with the latest clean diesel engines.  And by making those funding choices, they have the opportunity to make a real difference.  It’s a proven strategy, as evidenced by the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach’s Clean Truck Program that moved truckers to newer technology so quickly that port pollution was reduced by 70 percent in just one year,” Schaeffer said.

VW Mitigation Trust Goal Is to Reduce States’ NOx Emissions

The $381 million is the amount California is set to receive through the Environmental Mitigation Trust established in the VW settlement.  The purpose of the Trust is to fund projects to immediately reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) to mitigate the excessive NOx emissions generated by the population of VW cars in California found to have been outfitted with a device to sidestep U.S. EPA and California Air Resources Board emissions requirements.

To view the entire testimony go here or http://dieselforum.org/files/dmfile/DTF-Commnents-Sen-EQ-Trans-Hearing-3.21.2017.pdf

EPA and DOT Conclude Clean Diesel Most Cost-Effective for NOx Reduction

“Recent studies from U.S. EPA, U.S. DOT and other sources conclude that the most cost effective strategy to reduce NOx emissions from heavy-duty sources are investments in the latest clean diesel technology,” the Forum stated.  “Investing Trust revenues in replacing older commercial vehicles with clean diesel technology will allow for greater immediate term air quality benefits beyond that of investments in other technologies, and provide more direct benefits to more small businesses and regions of California than would other technologies and approaches.”

The South Coast Air Quality Management District estimates that NOx emissions could fall by 70 percent or 86 tons each day if every commercial truck in the region were powered by the latest clean diesel engine.[i]

The Forum added: “Projects to replace these oldest vehicles and equipment quickly will have immediate term benefits for the communities in which they operate.  Communities near freight facilities like ports and railyards will benefit the most given the large population of this equipment and the around-the-clock use of this equipment.”

The U.S. DOT, using the latest emissions model generated by the U.S. EPA found that one ton of NOx emissions may be eliminated by investing, on average, $20,000 in clean diesel technology versus, on average, $1 million in alternative fuel infrastructure.  Replacing a model year 2000 engine found in a Class 8 truck, a school bus and a transit bus with a model year 2015 diesel engine is a more cost-effective strategy than investments in charging infrastructure.

In its testimony, the Forum outlined several reasons why California and other states would benefit most from investing their VW Mitigation Trust funds in new advanced clean diesel technology:

Diesel engines, equipment and trucks are the technology of choice for key sectors of California’s economy.  Because of their unmatched combination of power, performance and efficiency, diesel engines are the technology of choice powering key sectors of California’s economy, particularly the goods movement (trucks, railroads, workboats) construction and agricultural sectors. In California, 70 percent of Class 3-8 trucks in use are powered by a diesel engine and diesel powers 96 percent of the largest Class 8 trucks.

California’s Trust investments should target the largest sources of NOx emissions. The largest sources of NOx emissions in California, according to the latest emissions inventory conducted by the California Air Resources Board, are attributable to older heavy-duty vehicles and equipment including trucks, buses, construction and agricultural equipment, locomotives and marine workboats.

California is home to the oldest equipment population of commercial trucks in use in the country.  Targeting this population of engines, vehicles and equipment will generate immediate term air quality benefits.  While California is a leader when it comes to electric vehicle registrations, the state leads the nation in the fleet of trucks that do not meet the latest near-zero emissions standards.  Almost three quarter of a million diesel trucks in use in California are of the generation technology built prior to 2010.  The South Coast Air Quality Management District estimates that NOx emissions could fall by 70 percent or 86 tons each day if every commercial truck in the region were powered by the latest clean diesel engine.

New off-road diesel engines and equipment are 90 percent cleaner. Off-road engines and equipment including marine vessels and locomotives have been required to achieve near-zero emissions levels of NOx and particulate matter similar to the requirements for commercial vehicles. Beginning in 2014 (and 2015 for the largest applications including locomotives and marine vessels), new “Tier 4” emissions requirements for new engines are in effect which result in 90 percent to 95 percent reduction in emissions relative to the oldest engines of the same type.

Clean diesel is the most cost effective investment for Trust revenue because it delivers more clean air for the dollar, faster than other strategies. Replacing older heavy-duty trucks with a 2017 model year clean diesel truck will achieve more NOx reductions per dollar invested compared to other fuels and infrastructure.  As evidenced by the relatively low market penetration of 1.2 percent of the commercial truck population, natural gas vehicles today remain a niche fuel in California.

The Diesel Emission Reduction Act program is a proven mechanism to administer a NOx reduction program, and will greatly minimize the administrative burdens on California.  Clean diesel technology has a proven track record when it comes to improving the environmental performance of older equipment through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) program, and DERA is a familiar and proven program within many air agencies.  The DERA program is a proven, established and ready means to quickly execute projects funded under the Trust with minimal administrative impacts.

Making the most of cost effective investments to achieve immediate term air quality benefits will not come at the expense of other California programs California’s vision of a zero-emission transportation future will not be materially impacted with investments of the $381 million trust for the purpose of upgrading heavy-duty vehicles engines and equipment with clean diesel technology Natural gas and other alternative fueled vehicles, hybrid trucks and buses and advanced technology demonstration projects all receive substantial funding derived from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and the AQIP/AB 118 programs.

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The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. Forum members are leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems. For more information visit www.dieselforum.org.

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[i]  http://www.aqmd.gov/docs/default-source/Agendas/aqmp/white-paper-working-groups/preliminary-draft-goods-movement-white-paper---060515.pdf?sfvrsn=2


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