Investing the proposed $2.7 billion Environmental Mitigation Trust from the Volkswagen settlement in advanced clean diesel technology would be the most cost-effective and immediate way to reduce NOx emissions in the U.S., according to the non-profit Diesel Technology Forum.
“Replacing older heavy-duty vehicles and off-road equipment with the latest clean diesel technology will greatly reduce NOx emissions and improve air quality,” Forum Executive Director Allen Schaeffer stated in letters to state policymakers.
“The most cost effective strategy to reduce NOx emissions from diesel sources are investments in the latest clean diesel technology. As a result of decades of research and investment, clean diesel technology yields near-zero emissions and is widely available today to provide immediate term air quality benefits.”
VW Environmental Mitigation Trust Proposal Seeks to Cut NOx Emissions
The partial consent decree opened for public comment in June 2016 and includes a $2.7 billion Environmental Mitigation Trust to “fully mitigate the total, lifetime excess NOx emissions” generated by the 550,000 light-duty VW diesel vehicles found to have been outfitted with the means to skirt emissions standards established by the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
The Forum expressed concerns that the $2.7 billion trust currently prioritizes less developed technologies, many of which are not currently available. In August, the Forum filed comments with the U.S. Department of Justice noting that the current proposal may fall short of mitigating the lifetime total emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) prescribed by the court due to a funding scheme that favors less effective and sometimes unavailable technologies when compared to proven and documented benefits of advanced clean diesel technology.
The Forum’s comments to the Department of Justice, called for a more technology-neutral approach for allocating funds, urged equal treatment of government and private fleets and outlined the additional air quality benefits that several states could achieve if they were to accelerate the replacement of older diesel trucks with newer clean diesel models.
New Clean Diesel Technology Immediately Reduces NOx at Much Lower Cost
“Recent evidence suggests that investments in proven and available clean diesel technology are a more cost effective investment to reduce NOx and achieve the clean air priorities established by the Trust,” Schaeffer wrote in his letter to policymakers. “The U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that 1 ton of NOx emissions may be eliminated by investing, on average, $20,000 in clean diesel technology versus, on average, $1 million in electric infrastructure.1
“Clean diesel technology has an impressive track record when it comes to improving the environmental performance of older equipment and vehicles through replacement and modernization programs. Through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA), a program managed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 335,000 tons of NOx have been reduced by modernizing or upgrading 73,000 older vehicles and equipment mostly by the adoption of clean diesel technology between 2008 and 2013. State air quality regulators around the country have much experience when it comes to managing diesel emission reduction programs, including those funded through the DERA program and maybe a valuable asset in managing the historic VW Environmental Mitigation Trust.”