New-generation diesel technologies to deliver greatest emission reductions from Utah’s VW settlement spending

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) awarded $25.5 million to fund vehicle replacements in priority communities most in need of emission reductions across the state. These funds represent the majority of the $35 million allocated to Utah as part of the Volkswagen (VW) Environmental Mitigation Trust. Seven percent of the state’s $35 million settlement from Volkswagen remain to be spent before October 2027. 

Of the vehicles to be replaced, 51 heavy-duty freight trucks and 23 school buses will be upgraded to the newest-generation diesel engine. In use since 2010, new-generation advanced technology diesel engines are equipped with the most advanced emissions control technology available: diesel particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction systems. These technologies capture nearly all fine particle (PM) and virtually eliminate smog-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions to near-zero levels. It would take 60 to today’s new-generation diesel trucks to generate the same emissions as a single truck manufactured in 1988. 

“While heavy-duty diesel engine replacements only receive 32 percent of the state’s funding in this round, these 74 vehicles will deliver the greatest emission reductions by far, even beyond zero-emission projects,” said Ezra Finkin, policy director for the Diesel Technology Forum, a non-profit educational organization that for two decades has been raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. “The lower cost of new, advanced diesel technologies allows more vehicles to be replaced for the limited funds available, meaning a greater portion of the fleet can be upgraded to near-zero emissions technologies.” 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that investments in clean diesel technology is a more cost-effective strategy to immediately reduce NOx emissionsfrom older vehicles and equipment than emerging alternatives such as battery electric commercial trucks. Replacing a single older class 8 tractor with a new diesel option can eliminate over 2 tons of NOx emissions. 

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