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November 17, 2016   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

What exactly is upgrading infrastructure? It’s not pretty but results are worth waiting for.

Clean diesel power will be the technology of choice delivering on infrastructure promises.

Following the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President, there is growing discussion in policy circles about uniting behind a common legislative and policy agenda, and the topic that keeps emerging is “infrastructure” – that is revitalizing, refurbishing and renewing the nation’s built environment that facilities our mobility and economy. In its broadest sense, this includes aviation, bridges, dams, waterways, levee systems, ports, schools, solid waste, transit and wastewater and the transmission of energy.

As bi-partisan support appears to be developing around a national public works program to upgrade our infrastructure, regardless of political affiliation, most Americans can agree that our infrastructure is in decline... and they are right. 

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), in their most recent report card on the infrastructure, determined that failure to act on ensuring adequate investment in infrastructure will cost us dearly. ASCE found that by 2020 we will spend triple the amount of time spent in traffic, earn on average $700 a year less and spend more than $360 on transportation and repairs. Higher infrastructure investment would prevent losses in productivity that cost businesses $240 billion a year. At the ports, about 76 percent of America’s international exports accessed global markets by water, in 2010 valued at over $460 billion, and 70 percent of U.S. imports arrived by water, valued at over $940 billion. Dredging of ports and maintenance of the nation’s waterways will enable more efficient shipping access and productivity gains for importers and exporters alike. Enhanced rail connections to ports help improve cargo handling efficiency and reduce traffic congestion. 

But what does upgrading infrastructure look like in practice?  It’s the hard and disruptive work of repairing or replacing old roads and crumbling bridges, dredging harbors, upgrading wastewater treatment systems and much more. Envision workers and heavy-duty machines and equipment like cranes, road graders, bulldozers and dump trucks working in concert to move dirt, haul materials, rig overhead structures, dig trenches, lay pavement, pour concrete and more.

Making this infrastructure upgrade happen will call into action the nation’s fleet of contractors small and large and their tools of choice are nearly all reliant on diesel technology, because of its unmatched combination of power, performance, efficiency and durability. Today, the latest generation of this clean diesel equipment also gets the job done with near-zero emissions, and the machines are more productive. While more hybrid diesel machine choices are available, it is the new high tech GPS and advanced telemetry that enables a new generation of “smart iron” - connected jobsites enabling meaningful efficiency gains that save fuel and precious time and money that also minimizes disruption and making the most of public works investments.  It also means fewer emissions and less fuel consumption lowering the environmental impact of the construction itself.

While clean diesel power will be the technology of choice delivering on infrastructure promises, diesel technology is also an important component of fifteen sectors of the economy that rely almost exclusively on diesel power to get the job done.  Diesel technology and fuel generated more than $455 billion of economic activity, according to our latest data. 

And workers in this field are among the highest paid, earning on average, weekly wages that are 60 percent higher than the national average. Taken together, the production and servicing of diesel technology directly generated more than $183 billion in economic activity and provided 1.25 million jobs. 

If the new Administration and Congress unite together in 2017 behind a national infrastructure renewal and revitalization effort, we’ve got the modern tools and technology to get it done; now more efficiently than ever before thanks in part to a new generation of clean diesel-powered heavy equipment and the industries that make it.



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Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy

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