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November 05, 2020   |  


How VW’s Diesel Settlement Is Changing Fleets, From Schools to Seaports

Funds from this trust can be used to replace diesel engines (2009 or older) with new ones, or electrics, for all manner of vehicles: a bus or heavy truck, a ferry or tugboat, or airport ground equipment, port forklifts or freight switchers. In the state plans, diesel-to-diesel replacements — which can stretch the money further — account for more than 70 percent of the available funding, said the Diesel Technology Forum, a trade group.

That trend distresses some clean-energy advocates, who argue that it’s time to retire diesel technology.

“We are obviously very disappointed that VW settlement money has been spent on nonelectric technology,” said Katherine Stainken, policy director at Plug In America. “These funds should be spent on technologies that emit zero tailpipe pollution. The future of transportation — in both the light- and heavy-duty sector — is electric all around.”

A new diesel truck could be on the road for 20 years or more. But the Diesel Technology Forum points to federal regulations that mandated much cleaner diesels, and a study claiming that nitrogen oxide emissions in new vehicles have been reduced 94 percent. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “New heavy-duty trucks and buses are roughly 99 percent cleaner than 1970 models.”

“The largest source of NOx is from heavy-duty diesel trucks, construction equipment and marine engines,” said Allen Schaeffer, the diesel forum’s executive director. “It makes sense to go after the biggest sources.” Replacing the engine in an old diesel tugboat would be the equivalent of taking 74,000 cars off the road, he said.


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