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December 06, 2016   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

The Promise of an Early Christmas for Clean Air

New clean diesel technology can deliver more emissions reductions for a fixed investment than emerging alternatives.

The air may be getting cleaner this year for some communities around the country thanks to the enormous Environmental Mitigation Trust established in the recent VW settlement.  With clean diesel technology, many of these communities can realize clean air benefits much more quickly.

The agreement reached between VW and the Department of Justice concerning the automakers use of devices to sidestep emission control requirements, includes a $2.7 billion Trust to encourage the retirement of older heavy-duty trucks and equipment in favor of newer clean models across the country. Several states have already proposed strategies to take advantage of the Trust to get new technologies on the road and on jobsites to generate clean air benefits quickly.

When it comes to generating the most air quality benefits for a fixed investment, states just have to look to a trusted technology – clean diesel. Recent reports conclude that new clean diesel technology can deliver more emissions reductions for a fixed investment than emerging alternatives. 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, replacing older port trucks with new clean diesel models delivers the greatest emission reduction for every $1 invested relative to other “transformative technologies” including all electric technology. Let’s do the math quickly. Replacing the oldest trucks with a new clean diesel model can reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen by 1,282 lbs and only costs $110,000. That works out to $86 per lbs of emissions reduced. Replacing that old truck with a battery-electric model can reduce more emissions but costs twice as much as the clean diesel model. The all-electric model can reduce emissions for $186 per lbs. Some of the transformative technologies also rely on a fueling infrastructure network that in many parts of the country do not exist. Factoring in electric vehicle charging stations, for example, the U.S Department of Transportation estimates that all-electric technologies may cost upwards of $1 million to reduce 2,000 lbs of emissions.

For a set investment, more clean diesel vehicles and equipment can be put into service to generate immediate term clean air benefits. Clean diesel is ready and available today to deliver cleaner air.


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Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy

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