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April 29, 2019   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

Policymakers Should Get Serious About Cash for Cleaner Air

Members of the Clean Air Dialogue that includes health and environmental advocates and industry representatives recently endorsed a roadmap for California’s policy leaders to help make more effective use of programs to achieve ambitious clean air and climate goals.


Setting goals is easy, achieving them is the tough part. A group of environmental advocates and industry leaders hope to show California’s policymakers how to make more effective use of programs to achieve cleaner air and climate goals. 

Communities across California are often located in regions of the country that suffer from the worst air quality by far. When it comes to reducing emissions from things that move, or mobile sources of emissions, policymakers in the state have adopted one program after another to respond to this need for cleaner air. Despite the wealth in programs and the money that helps pay for them, these programs are sometimes at cross purposes with each other or fail to deliver any quantifiable results. Thankfully, members of the Clean Air Dialogue, that includes health and environmental advocates and industry representatives, recently endorsed a roadmap for California’s policy leaders to help make more effective use of programs to achieve ambitious clean air and climate goals. 

First off, programs must be technology neutral. This approach prioritizes outcomes and does not handpick winners. Important advances in all technologies and fuel types are being made, and the latest innovations should be able to compete fairly to deliver benefits across the state, including to those communities most in need of emission reductions.

Secondly, policymakers need to achieve a proper balance between programs that deliver benefits now alongside longer-term investments in technologies that are still on the drawing board. Today, much policy is focused on funding the demonstration of emerging technologies. While exciting, this approach does very little to provide direct benefits to those communities most in need of air quality gains. Proven and available clean technologies are ready to go today, and more focus should be invested into policies to get these technologies out on the road and at work to deliver needed benefits right now alongside those demonstration projects.

Lastly, policymakers should require that state agencies account for the benefits provided by these many programs. While Californians pay for many of these programs, state agencies rarely disclose the air quality and climate benefits generated. Public accounting of these programs also helps state agency officials learn which programs are achieving results and make changes to those that may be less effective.

As a member of the Clean Air Dialogue, we encourage policymakers in California consider these action items to help deliver the most to improve air quality across the state including to those communities most in need of cleaner air. 

Principles for Sustained and Effective Incentive Programs 

Key Principles from the Roadmap

A Technology Neutral Approach – The goal of mobile source incentive funding should be to achieve emission reduction mandates in a manner that does not predetermine a technology approach. Funding should be directed in a technology neutral manner that best achieves air quality and climate objectives across the portfolio of public incentive programs.

Balancing Near- and Long-Term Objectives and Leveraging Private Investment – Incentive programs should be configured to support both near-term expansion of commercially available cleaner technology options and longer-term transformative technologies that offer greater benefits at maturity. Incentives should be designed to spur the growth of cleaner technologies by reducing costs through increased research and development, innovation, and
economy of scale manufacturing that increase demand for clean technology products and accelerate business models triggering increased private investment.



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Key Contact

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

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