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Clean Diesel Delivers Clean Air Benefits to The Mid-Atlantic Region

Government, environmental and private sector members of a Mid-Atlantic clean air coalition met May 4 in Pennsylvania to discuss strategies for continuing air quality improvements for the region.

The Mid-Atlantic Diesel Collaborative is a partnership between leaders from federal and state agencies, regional EPA offices, environmental groups, trucking fleets, engine and equipment makers and other interest groups working together to reduce emissions from existing engines and equipment.  The Mid-Atlantic Collaborative includes Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Diesel Technology Forum executive director Allen Schaeffer spoke at the 10th anniversary meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Collaborative.  During his presentation, Schaeffer recognized the regional collaborative for its innovative and successful approaches to improving air quality from existing vehicles and equipment ranging from commercial trucking operations and reducing vessel emissions from ports, to upgrading regional ferries.

One example Schaeffer noted was how the region has established itself as a national leader in efforts to replace and upgrade drayage trucks.  These short-haul trucks move containerized cargo from the respective ports generally less than 50 miles to the next mode of transport – highway truck or rail.  Drayage truck replacement programs have been successfully implemented at the Port of Baltimore and most recently in Virginia with the assistance of the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland.

Schaeffer said the Mid-Atlantic region is close to the national average for adoption of the newest technology clean diesel commercial trucks with near zero emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxide emissions – a contributor to regional ozone levels.  For example, the fleet of clean diesel commercial vehicles on the road in Pennsylvania since 2010 have eliminated 1.3 million tons of CO2[subscript] and 300,000 tons of oxides of nitrogen, while saving 3.1 million barrels of crude oil, Schaeffer said.

The additional air quality benefits attributable to greater adoption of trucks powered by a diesel engine that meets the 2010 model year emissions standard is significant.  An additional 30,000 tons of NOx and almost one million tons of C02 could be eliminated if just half of the commercial vehicles in use in Pennsylvania met the model year 2010 diesel standard.

According to the Ozone Transport Commission, the region is projected to see a reduction of NOx emissions from the largest commercial trucks of about 64 percent by 2020 from 2007 levels.  These reductions come primarily from the adoption of new technology clean diesel trucks within the region.

The Mid-Atlantic region relies nearly exclusively on diesel technology for trucking and freight rail operations up and down the busy Northeast corridor, including the Ports of Baltimore, Norfolk, Philadelphia and Wilmington.  The region’s agricultural and construction industries also rely on diesel engines and equipment.

Looking toward to the future, Schaeffer noted in the next decade that diesel would remain the prime mover for the global economy, but that new engines would be far more efficient and have lower greenhouse gas emissions.  He predicted substantial gains in efficiency from construction and farming equipment in the future thanks to aggressive implementation of smart and connected job-sites and machines using the latest generation clean diesel engine.  Finally, he suggested that in the next decade there will be an increased use of cleaner burning biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels.  He noted that cities such as San Francisco, Oakland and New York are today successfully using these renewable biodiesel fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Mid-Atlantic region has been awarded just over $2.24 million in funding from EPA through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act over the 2008-2013 timeframe.

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