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June 20, 2017   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

Is California Stuck in the Slow Lane?

A lot of attention has been placed on Section 177 states adopting California’s requirements but these states fall behind when it comes to actually adopting the latest clean commercial vehicle technologies.


On June 19, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that California can keep its “waiver” or exemption from the Clean Air Act, at least for now. This will let California and 16 other states continue to advance policies to reduce emissions and save fuel from cars and trucks.

Back when Congress debated the Clean Air Act, California already had its own Clean Air Act that allowed the state to regulate tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks. So Congress let California keep its own version. Every time California wanted to consider a new regulation under its own law, the California governor simply alerted the EPA Administrator who could choose to allow California to proceed with its own rules – granting the waiver – or deny the request. Section 177 of the federal Clean Air Act also let all other 50 states choose to adopt California’s rules or follow federal rules. So far, 16 states – the so-called Section 177 states - have chosen to follow California. 

These states are an economic powerhouse and make up a surprising share of all passenger cars and commercial vehicles on the road across the country.  In total, the Section 177 states:

A lot of attention has been placed on these Section 177 states adopting California’s requirements regarding advanced passenger car technologies and zero-emission passenger cars. However, those states fall behind when it comes to actually adopting the latest clean commercial vehicle technologies.

One out of every three trucks on the road that comes with the latest generation technology to meet stringent tailpipe emissions standards is located in one of the Section 177 states. Only Pennsylvania and Maryland make the Top 10 list for states with the greatest share of advanced technology commercial vehicles. In fact, California comes in at #47 of all the states for the share of clean trucks in the Golden State’s fleet. That’s hardly showing leadership, at least when it comes to adopting commercial truck technology. 

Significant advancements in clean diesel technology that power commercial vehicles generate significant emission reductions. Today, a diesel engine powers the majority of commercial vehicles and over 98 percent of the largest Class 8 trucks on the road. A single Class 8 truck that comes with the latest generation diesel engine can reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen, a smog forming compound, by over 2 tons in a single year while also saving quite a lot of fuel.

Replacing more of these older trucks with the latest generation clean diesel models can do quite a lot to achieve emission reduction and fuel savings goals.



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Key Contact

Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy
efinkin@dieselforum.org
301-668-7230

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