ACT News 2017


VW Deal to Boost Gov’t EV Programs

June 28, 2016 in Companies, litigation, milestones by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

German Automaker Hit for $14.7 Billion over Its Diesel Deceits
Agreements With U.S. and California to Compensate Consumers
And Back Programs Supporting Zero-Emission Vehicle Technology

Volkswagen will have to spend as much as $10 billion to compensate consumers and $4.7 billion “to mitigate pollution and make investments that support zero-emission vehicle technology,” the U.S. EPA said today, “to settle allegations of cheating emissions tests and deceiving customers.” updated June 29

U.S. EPA Proposes Higher RFS Levels

June 1, 2016 in Biofuels, Biomethane, Regulations by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Agency Says It’s ‘Committed to Keeping the RFS Program on Track’

The U.S. EPA has proposed increases to the volumes required under the federal RFS/Renewable Fuel Standard program, the complex system of tradable credits that allows bio-based fuels to compete and indeed thrive in the marketplace.

EPA Has $26 Million for Cleaner Engines

March 7, 2016 in money available by Joe Annotti  |  No Comments

Diesel Is the Focus But Alt Fuel Replacements & Repowers Eligible Too,
Latest Round Marks Feds’ First Offer of Extra Money for Super-Low NOx

The U.S. EPA is anteing $26 million in the latest round of its Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program. The program is often referred to as DERA, for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act it implements. The goal is to help operators pay to repower or retrofit their legacy trucks, or deploy new ones with engines meeting current emissions standards.

U.S. EPA Finalizes Its RFS Volumes Rule

December 1, 2015 in Biodiesel, Biofuels, Regulations by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

‘The Biofuel Industry Is an Incredible American Success Story’

The U.S. EPA released the final volume requirements under its Renewable Fuel Standard program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 this week, as well as final volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2014 to 2017.

Federal GHG Process Is Heating Up

September 2, 2015 in event, Regulations, webinar by Joe Annotti  |  No Comments

Fleet Owner Is Presenting Ryder-Sponsored Webinar on September 23
As Deadline for Input on Greenhouse Truck & Bus Rule Is Now October 1

Concerned about the federal government’s new greenhouse gas emissions regulations affecting medium- and heavy-duty vehicles?

U.S. Proposes Huge Truck Efficiency Rule

June 23, 2015 in Regulations by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Sprawling EPA-NHTSA Rule Is Designed to Pare Operators’ Fuel Costs,
‘It’s Been a Year in the Making, Now the Fun Begins,’ Says One Advocate

The federal government has formally proposed its Phase 2 regulations for model year 2021 to 2027 medium and heavy duty vehicles. The sweeping regulation from the U.S. EPA and NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is designed to both reduce carbon emissions and slash fuel consumption. updated June 24

The new Phase 2 regulation is projected to save vehicle owners ‘about $170 billion in fuel costs over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the regulatory timeframe,’ states an EPA-NHTSA summary.

The new Phase 2 regulation is projected to save vehicle owners ‘about $170 billion in fuel costs over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the regulatory timeframe,’ states an EPA-NHTSA summary.

The proposed standards are expected to lower carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 1 billion metric tons, the agencies say, and to cut fuel costs by about $170 billion. They are to reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program.

The rule follows a goal set by President Obama in February 2014.

“It’s been a year in the making, now the fun begins,” says one expert, charged with helping clients respond to the proposal. EPA and NHTSA are taking comments until 60 days after publication of the proposal in the Federal Register – expected early in July – and will hold at least two public workshops on the proposal. They are currently expected to be held in late August, in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Engines and Trailers and Vehicles

The massive proposal, which runs to several thousands of pages in multiple documents from EPA and NHTSA, includes sections on engines and trailers as well as overall vehicles. It comes as the Obama administration’s heavy duty vehicle rules effective through 2017 are not yet fully implemented, notes Glen Kedzie, general counsel for ATA, the American Trucking Associations.

“We’re still in the middle of the Phase 1 rule,” he told F&F.

ATA’s principal concern is that while Phase 1 relies on technologies already implemented via the EPA’s SmartWay program, Phase 2 makes reference to advanced technologies, some of which are not yet commercially available. There is the further challenge, Kedzie says, of coordinating technologies pertinent to engines, trailers, and overall vehicles, all with a view to what will be in use in 2027, more than a decade away.

“Lots of things can change,” he says. “That’s the scary part of this regulation.”

‘Ambitious Yet Achievable and Affordable’

The agencies note that the proposed rule does not take effect until model year 2021 (model year 2018 for trailers). The proposed standards, says a fact sheet, “are the product of a comprehensive assessment of existing and advanced technologies and extensive stakeholder outreach.

“The agencies have had well over 300 meetings with manufacturers, fleets, owner-operators, dealerships, suppliers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), consumer groups, labor unions, and other stakeholders to identify and understand the opportunities and challenges associated with fuel saving technologies…

“In order to significantly reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions while ensuring the heavy-duty industry continues to meet the diverse needs of our transportation sector, the agencies have carefully designed a set of proposed standards that are ambitious yet achievable and affordable.”

‘Grounded in Rigorous Technical Data’

The proposal is “grounded in rigorous technical data and analysis,” the agencies say. “They do not mandate the use of specific technologies. Rather they establish standards achievable through a range of technology options, and allow manufacturers to choose those technologies that work best for their products and for their customers.”

Numerous organizations reacted to the proposal, most favorably, though often guardedly.

“Fuel is an enormous expense for our industry – and carbon emissions carry an enormous cost for our planet,” ATA president and CEO Bill Graves said in a release. “That’s why our industry supported the Obama Administration’s historic first round of greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for medium and large trucks and why we support the aims of this second round of standards.”

ATA president and CEO Bill Graves

ATA president and CEO Bill Graves

The Industry Needs Time

Kedzie, in the same announcement, sounded a caution: “We believe this rule could result in the deployment of certain technologies that do not fully recognize the diversity of our industry and could prove to be unreliable. This unreliability could slow not only adoption of these technologies, but the environmental benefits they aim to create.”

“To prevent this, truck and engine manufacturers will need adequate time to develop solutions to meet these new standards.”

According to Kedzie, fuel is typically a fleet’s first or second largest operating expense and most fleets seek a return on their investment in new equipment within 18 to 24 months.

Volvo Expresses Concern

“In 2014, trucking spent nearly $150 billion on diesel fuel alone,” he said in the ATA announcement, “so the potential for real cost savings and associated environmental benefits of this rule are there – but fleets will need a wide variety of proven and durable technologies to meet these new standards throughout the various implementation stages.”

Volvo, while supporting the government’s goals, took issue with the structure of then proposal. “In principle, the Volvo Group maintains that a separate engine standard is inconsistent with the Group’s interest in minimizing the complete, real world environmental impacts of its products.”

Matt Godlewski

NGVAmerica president Matt Godlewski

“A separate engine standard is at odds with the reduction of NOx,” Volvo said, “due to the natural trade-off between NOx and CO2 emissions from the engine. It also limits manufacturers’ flexibility to meet the regulated targets for each individual customer in a way that suits their specific needs, and it incentivizes optimization for engine test cell requirements versus real world efficiencies.”

Volvo made clear that it will make its position clear to EPA and NHTSA “within the allotted timeframe.”

In other statements,

  • “Today’s proposal has the potential to be a win-win-win that will lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce fuel costs and reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil,” said NGVAmerica president Matt Godlewski. The final rule, he said, could “create new opportunities for fleets to use natural gas to further reduce fuel costs and emissions, while increasing energy security.”
  • “These proposed heavy-duty standards will help the nation fight climate change while driving new technology and reducing costs for truckers and fleet managers,” said California Air Resources Board Chairman Nichols. “We support this effort and will be working to ensure the final regulations help California meet our goals for 2030 and beyond.”
  • “Making our trucks go farther on less fuel will limit climate change and oil dependency while saving consumers and businesses money, and spurring innovation,” said Natural Resources Defense Council president Rhea Suh. “We will be pushing the administration to require compliance sooner, in order to deliver these benefits more quickly.”
  • “When heavy- and medium-duty trucks become more fuel efficient, the U.S. economy will benefit,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the clean energy initiative at the Pew Charitable Trusts. “Truckers will pay less at the pump, businesses will have lower shipping costs, and consumers will save on purchased goods – all while pollution is decreased, benefitting public health and the environment.”
  • “Cummins welcomes the proposal with its goals to improve fuel efficiency and reduce GHG emissions, creating a win-win for both customers and the environment,” said Cummins VP and engine business president Dave Crompton. “We are pleased that the new proposal builds upon the Phase 1 framework that aligns technological advances and industry success.”
  • “As a power management company committed to increased fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gases, Eaton strongly supports the next phase of standards for medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles,” said Eaton chairman and CEO Alexander Cutler. “These standards provide important incentives to help deploy the next generation of fuel efficient technologies. Eaton stands ready to provide cost-effective advanced drivetrain technologies that make vehicles more efficient while achieving significant operational savings for our customers’ commercial vehicle fleets.”

“Once upon a time, to be pro-environment you had to be anti-big-vehicles. This rule will change that,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the EPA-NHTSA announcement. “These efficiency standards are good for the environment – and the economy, he said.

“When trucks use less fuel, shipping costs go down. It’s good news all around, especially for anyone with an online shopping habit.”

Two-Year Payback in 2027

Also according to the announcement, “The proposed standards are cost-effective for consumers and businesses, delivering favorable payback periods for truck owners; the buyer of a new long-haul truck in 2027 would recoup the investment in fuel-efficient technology in less than two years through fuel savings.

“We’re delivering big time on President Obama’s call to cut carbon pollution,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “With emission reductions weighing in at 1 billion tons, this proposal will save consumers, businesses and truck owners money; and at the same time spur technology innovation and job-growth, while protecting Americans’ health and our environment over the long haul.”

‘Payback periods for truck owners would be favorable,’ the government says: ‘the buyer of a new long-haul truck in 2027 would recoup the extra cost of the technology in under two years through fuel savings.’

‘Payback periods for truck owners would be favorable,’ the government says: ‘the buyer of a new long-haul truck in 2027 would recoup the extra cost of the technology in under two years through fuel savings.’

EPA Posts New Renewable Goals

June 2, 2015 in Biofuels, Regulations by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

RFS Proposal Disappoints Some Advanced Fuels Developers

The U.S. EPA has proposed new volume requirements under its Renewable Fuel Standard program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016. The agency also proposed volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2017.

U.S. EPA Tightening Its Ozone Targets

December 2, 2014 in Regulations by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

New Smog Rule Is to Mean Less NOx from Engines of All Types:
Ozone Limit of 65 to 70 Parts Per Billion, Down from 75 PPB Now
Is Expected to Create Significant Opportunities for Alternative Fuels

Citing the requirements of the Clean Air Act to use the best available science, the U.S. EPA is moving to reduce ground-level ozone pollution, which effectively means reducing NOx emissions from powerplants and from engines of all types. Besides lowering the permissible level of ambient ozone, EPA wants to extend the ozone monitoring season for 33 states.

U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

“Based on extensive recent scientific evidence about the harmful effects of ground-level ozone, or smog,” the agency is proposing to lower the permissible level of ambient ozone from the current 75 parts per billion to a range of 65 to 70 ppb – with the possibility of a 60 ppb ceiling by the time the rule is finalized next autumn.

‘Great Opportunities for Alternative Fuels’

“Regardless of what final ozone number is chosen, there will be more focus on reducing emissions from the existing fleet,” said Erik Neandross, CEO at GNA – Fleets & Fuels publisher Gladstein, Neandross & Associates.

“This will create great opportunities for alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies, as well as for fleets looking to improve the environmental and economic performance of their operations,” Neandross said.

Clean Air Act ‘The Way It Was Intended’

“The national government has stepped up,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters in announcing the new rule just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. “We are using the Clean Air Act the way it was intended.”

EPA says that its scientists have reviewed more than 1,000 studies published since the last ozone update, and find that the current 75-ppb limit for ozone is inadequate, in that it allows “serious threats to public health” to persist.

Ground-level ozone forms when emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds “cook” in the sun from sources including cars, trucks, and buses, EPA says.

The agency also notes that a combination of recently finalized or proposed air pollution rules – including “Tier 3” clean vehicle and fuels standards – will significantly cut smog-forming emissions from industry and transportation, helping states meet the proposed standards.

‘Rules and Programs Now In Place’

“EPA ambient air quality standards have led to much cleaner air and improved public health in an extremely cost-effective manner,” says Rich Kassel, senior VP at GNA – and a former member of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, which advises EPA on policy matters. “From 1990 to 2020, these standards will have prevented more 230,000 premature deaths and 17 million lost work days.”

“EPA’s analysis of federal programs that reduce air pollution from fuels, vehicles and engines of all sizes, power plants and other industries shows that the vast majority of U.S. counties with monitors would meet the more protective standards by 2025 just with the rules and programs now in place or underway,” the agency said.

“Nationally, from 1980 to 2013, average ozone levels have fallen 33%. EPA projects that this progress will continue.”

Economic Benefit Far Exceed Costs

“The economic benefits of these standards will exceed the implementation costs by a factor of more than thirty to one,” Kassel said. “I have no doubt that the next ozone standard will continue this track record.”

EPA notes that under its latest proposal, deadlines to achieve the new ozone levels extend in some areas until 2037.

U.S. EPA Ground-Level Ozone


EPA Sets Final Tier 3 Emissions Rule

March 3, 2014 in Regulations by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

‘Standards Are a Win For Public Health, a Win For Our Environment,’
The Regulation Covers Passenger Cars and Sulfur Content of Gasoline

The U.S. EPA, citing “extensive input from the public and a broad range of stakeholders, including public health groups, auto manufacturers, refiners, and states,” is trumpeting new final emission standards for cars and gasoline it says “will significantly reduce harmful pollution and prevent thousands of premature deaths and illnesses, while also enabling efficiency improvements in the cars and trucks we drive.

EPAlogo“These cleaner fuel and car standards are an important component of the administration’s national program for clean cars and trucks, which also include historic fuel efficiency standards that are saving new vehicle owners at the gas pump, EPA says. “Once fully in place, the standards will help avoid up to 2,000 premature deaths per year and 50,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children.”

“These standards are a win for public health, a win for our environment, and a win for our pocketbooks,” EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said in a Monday morning release. “We’re continuing to build on the Obama Administration’s broader clean fuels and vehicles efforts that cut carbon pollution, clean the air we breathe, and save families money at the pump,” she said.

The standards “will quickly and effectively” reduce soot, smog and toxic emissions from cars and trucks, EPA says, while related actions result in average fuel savings of more than $8,000 by 2025 over a vehicle’s lifetime.

Money to be Saved as Health Improves

“The fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards covering model year vehicles from 2012-2025 are projected to save American families more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs.”

The final fuel standards will reduce gasoline sulfur levels by more than 60% – down from 30 parts per million now to 10 ppm in 2017. By 2018, EPA estimates, the cleaner fuels and cars program will annually prevent between 225 and 610 premature deaths, while significantly reducing ambient concentrations of ozone.

Less than a Penny per Gallon, $72 per Vehicle

By 2030, EPA estimates that up to 2,000 premature deaths, 50,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children, 2,200 hospital admissions and asthma-related emergency room visits, and 1.4 million lost school days, work days and days when activities would be restricted due to air pollution. Total health-related benefits in 2030 will be between $6.7 and $19 billion annually. The final standards are expected to provide up to $13 worth of health benefits for every dollar spent to meet them.

The sulfur standards will cost less than a penny per gallon of gasoline on average once the standards are fully in place, EPA says, while the vehicle standards will have an average cost of about $72 per vehicle in 2025.

Source: U.S. EPA


New U.S. Biodiesel Production Record

January 2, 2012 in Uncategorized by rich  |  No Comments

The U.S. biodiesel industry set a new record for annual production through just the first ten months of 2011, according to U.S. EPA figures, “proving the power that strong domestic energy policy has in creating U.S. jobs and boosting the economy,” says the National Biodiesel Board.

Through October, the U.S. industry produced more than 802 million gallons of biodiesel “in plants from Florida to Iowa to Washington State,” NBB reports.

San Francisco Muni operates its hybrid buses on biodiesel

San Francisco Muni operates its hybrid buses on biodiesel

“We could break the billion-gallon mark,” NBB federal communications director Ben Evans told F&F from Washington last week.

The ten-month tally more than doubles last year’s production of some 315 million gallons and shatters the previous annual record of approximately 690 million gallons set in 2008.

U.S biodiesel got a boost as a key $1 per gallon tax incentive was reinstated for 2011. It will expire at year-end unless Congress acts.

“I can say without question that this tax credit has helped us grow our production and hire new people, and it will play a big role in our growth going forward,” Gabe Neeriemer, president of Patriot Biodiesel in Greensboro, N.C. says in an NBB release. “It will affect how many people we can hire, how much feedstock and equipment we buy, how many truckers we put to work delivering fuel,” Neeriemer said.

Patriot was forced to suspend operations when the tax credit expired at the end of 2010. “With the incentive restored this year, the plant is not only back online but is expanding production to about 5 million gallons per year and hiring a half dozen new employees,” NBB says.

NBB Annual Meeting in Orlando in February

“This incentive is working, and particularly in this kind of economy when politicians say they’re doing everything they can to create jobs, I can’t imagine why Congress would allow it to expire,” Neeriemer said.

NBB, citing a study by Cardno-Entrix, says that this year’s increased biodiesel production will support more than 31,000 jobs – up from fewer than 13,000 last year – while generating at least $3 billion in GDP and $628 million in federal, state and local tax revenues. In addition to creating jobs and economic activity, biodiesel is reducing U.S. reliance on foreign oil, bolstering economic and national security by diversifying our fuel supply, and reducing tailpipe pollution and greenhouse gases emissions, NBB says.

NBB 2012, the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo, will be held February 5-8 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee ( Orlando), Fla. The biodiesel annual is again being managed by Denver’s Kinsley Meetings.

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