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August 02, 2018   |

Press Release

Massachusetts’ VW Settlement Spending Plan Represents a Missed Opportunity for Clean Air in Communities in Need

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“The bottom line: clean diesel investments yield faster reductions in NOx emissions at a lower cost,”


Replacing the oldest technology with the newest clean diesel option is often the most cost-effective, immediate method for states to gain the greatest amount of clean air for the VW settlement dollar.



August 2, 2018 (WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The draft plan released by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) concerning its use of $23 million in the first round of Environmental Mitigation Trust funding ignores the stated purpose of the fund and asks communities to continue to wait for emission reduction benefits. The purpose of this Environmental Mitigation Trust established in the VW settlement is to reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) as a mitigation measure against the excess emissions from the almost 600,000 VW vehicles found to have been deployed with technology that sidesteps NOx emission controls.

“Massachusetts has an extraordinary opportunity to make an immediate investment in clean air for communities all across the state,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. Funding clean diesel upgrades for Massachusetts’ oldest trucks, tugboats, switcher locomotives, school and transit buses, and construction equipment will deliver rapid and proven clean air benefits to communities all across the state. Because the VW Trust is designed to fund the immediate mitigation of excess emissions from non-compliant cars, prioritizing clean diesel upgrades for the largest engines offers Massachusetts the fastest, most impactful method of eliminating NOx.”

“The bottom line: clean diesel investments yield faster reductions in NOx emissions at a lower cost,”  said Schaeffer. “Clean diesel offers Massachusetts more clean air for the VW dollar, faster.”

“Unfortunately, instead of focusing on clean air benefits from mitigating NOx emissions, the draft plan issued by DEP focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and funding expensive and unproven emerging technologies, many of which are not currently available. In doing so, the plan ignores the NOx mitigation requirement and ensures that residents of sensitive communities must wait longer for fewer clean air benefits until if and when emerging technologies prove out in the lab and in the market place at scale.”

According to the draft plan issued by DEP, the majority of available funds would incentivize the purchase of all-electric trucks and buses. “Today, all-electric options are not available in the full range of heavy-duty applications, like Class 8 tractor-trailer style trucks,” said Schaeffer. “Where these options are available, in smaller trucks and buses, they come with a much higher price tag. And while a few electric transit buses will make headlines, replacing more, older transit buses with new diesel technology will make faster improvements to air quality in sensitive communities. Everyone should understand that keeping older and higher emitting trucks and buses in service longer has more emissions impacts than a few so called zero emission electric transit buses.”

Recent research confirms that clean diesel technologies are among the most cost-effective solutions to maximize emission reductions. Clean diesel refers to those technologies that meet the latest near-zero emission standards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, beginning with model year 2011. The newest generation of clean diesel technology meets the increasing demands of truckers, construction companies and farmers while also delivering lower greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner air. Diesel engine, vehicle and equipment manufacturers continue their record of innovation by making their products more efficient and sustainable, incorporating hybrid and electric drive components and renewable fuel capabilities. Replacing the oldest technology with the newest clean diesel option is often the most cost-effective, immediate method for states to gain the greatest amount of clean air for the VW settlement dollar.

“To reduce 1 ton of NOx, which option would you choose: invest $176,000 in a new Class 8 clean diesel port truck; spend $214,000 for a compressed natural gas port truck; or hold $330,000 until the proper type of battery electric truck is developed,” said Schaeffer. “That’s the type of question Massachusetts DEP must answer.”

In addition, new joint research by the Forum and the Environmental Defense Fund shows that clean diesel technology upgrades for large tug and switcher locomotive engines cost only $4,379 to $15,201 per ton of NOx, compared to more than $30,000 per ton of NOx for many other diesel emission reduction projects. The joint research estimates that replacing these older engines can eliminate on average between 9.0 and 14.9 tons of NOx emissions per year.

A detailed analysis of Massachusetts’s NOx reduction funding options can be found at https://www.dieselforum.org/vwfund. Additional resources for Massachusetts are available via a webinar, accessible at https://www.dieselforum.org/policyinsider/making-the-most-of-clean-air-investments-free-webinar-series.

Visit https://www.dieselforum.org/Massachusetts to learn more about clean diesel’s role in Massachusetts.


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Media Inquiries:
Sarah Dirndorfer
Manager, Media Relations
sdirndorfer@dieselforum.org
(301) 668-7230

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