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VW Diesel Trust Prioritizes Government Over Commercial Fleets

August 05, 2016

The $2.7 billion trust fund set up under the proposed settlement between Volkswagen and environmental regulators would likely give priority to government fleets over their commercial brethren to eliminate diesel vehicles, according to a leading diesel group.

The Diesel Technology Forum's response was part of comments submitted as part of the Volkswagen Partial Consent Decree and Settlement that's expected to gain final approval by Oct. 18.

"As currently configured, the Volkswagen Partial Consent Decree and Settlement will fail to effectively mitigate the lifetime total emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) prescribed by the court due to a funding scheme that favors less effective and available technologies and approaches when compared to proven and documented benefits of advanced clean diesel technology," said Allen Schaeffer, the forum's executive director.

The partial consent decree released on June 28 outlines the details of $14.7 billion in settlements that include a $2.7-billion Environmental Mitigation Trust to "fully mitigate the total, lifetime excess NOx emissions" from vehicles that violated clean air laws by emitting 40 times the legal limit. Volkswagen used emissions cheat software on 550,000 light-duty VW diesel vehicles.

Under the terms of the trust, funds will be awarded primarily to states and other government entities to reduce diesel-engine use among public fleets. Agencies will apply to a third-party trustee for grants.

"Not that upgrading government fleet vehicles is not important, but the EMT in its current form is even more problematic in its treatment of government over private fleets, offering greater access to more dollars for government fleets over private fleets, and offering higher funding levels for investments in boutique fuels and technologies rather than mitigating NOx emissions," Schaeffer said. "Since government vehicles typically travel far fewer miles than private fleets, this in turn means that even fewer clean air benefits will be generated than from private fleets using newer technology."

The automaker agreed to the settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) nine months after the cheat software was first discovered.

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  1. 1. Tim Calhoun [ August 08, 2016 @ 12:06PM ]

    I agree that some government fleets travel fewer miles than private fleets, but there are many government public safety fleets that rely heavily on diesel trucks to respond to emergencies and transport patients. For example we run over 1.2 million miles with just 54 front line rescue trucks. We need telematic equipment, so when a diesel truck sends a diagnostic trouble code we can repair the truck before more damage is done to the truck or more diesel emissions are released into the atmosphere.

  2. 2. Keith Leech [ August 08, 2016 @ 12:15PM ]

    For many years, capital expenditure budgets of numerous fleets have been
    severely constrained, delaying vehicle and engine replacements. Many government fleets
    have extreme difficulties basing their purchase decisions on total cost of ownership life cycle
    cost and few are able to obtain the federal tax credits readily available to private fleets and/or
    finance a debt or lease obligation over multiple fiscal years to help absorb the higher up front
    equipment purchase costs of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. Therefore, up front financial assistance helps government fleets provide justification to policy makers and elected officials to prioritize the increased public investment in lower emission vehicles and
    engines.

    Some public institutions, school districts being one, have been chronically underfunded. This
    has been occurring at the same time that government fleets have been mandated to increase
    acquisitions of advanced technology vehicles. Since children, seniors and the infirm are the
    most susceptible to health issues related to exposure to diesel exhaust, institutions that
    provide transportation for those individuals should receive a higher level of funding. The
    mitigation fund will enable government fleets to replace older vehicles and engines on an
    expedited time schedule.

 

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