Thursday, June 29, 2017

From the Wall Street Journal:
European Cities Are Just Saying 'No' to Scandal-Tinged Diesel Vehicles

Mayors, pressed by courts and activists, are banning or curbing diesel use to combat health-threatening smog

By William Boston

Updated June 27, 2017 12:35 p.m. ET

BERLIN—Large European cities from Munich to Madrid are banning or restricting diesel vehicles amid mounting alarm over toxic emissions, presenting a major challenge to European car makers who sell millions of them.

National governments have been slow to react to a string of scandals that have exposed diesel engines as far bigger polluters than advertised. But these cities, goaded by environmental groups, are emerging as the leaders of an antidiesel movement that is forcing Europe's car industry to rethink its future.

Among the cities considering or seeking a ban on diesel vehicles or an environmental tax are BMW AG's BMW 0.99% hometown Munich, and Stuttgart, which hosts Daimler AG DMLRY 0.08% and Porsche SE . POAHY 1.43% Their message to Europe's car makers: If you can't clean diesel, we will. "Cities are sending a signal to the public and manufacturers that there is a preference for clean vehicles," said Ray Minjares, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation. The group uncovered emissions cheating by German car maker Volkswagen AG that has drawn attention to the issue over the past two years.

The scandal, which has since spread to other auto makers, started in the U.S. But less than 5% of U.S. cars are diesels, compared with half of all new European cars sold—some 85 million on the road.

The European Union took center stage after it set aggressive targets to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions to fight climate change. European auto makers, especially the Germans, bet big on diesel as their main tool to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. Diesel burns more efficiently than gasoline, so it gets better mileage and emits less carbon dioxide. The industry pushed it and won support from European governments, which have subsidized diesel through lower taxes since the 1990s.

Climate change isn't the only issue. A study co-authored by Mr. Minjares concluded that just one pollutant from diesel engines caused 107,600 premature deaths world-wide in 2015. Around 80% of them were in Europe, China and India.

But car makers will be hard-pressed to shift from diesel and still meet European greenhouse-gas targets. Demand for electric cars is still less than 2% of global auto sales. All sales of new electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, accounted for just 1% of the 14.6 million new cars sold in the EU last year.

German car makers and unions are worried about the impact on their livelihoods. More than half the European sales of Germany's top brands, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Porsche, sport diesel engines.

Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler, which owns Mercedes, said this week that "driving bans are a political response, but will not lead to real change because they can't really be implemented."

Germany's largest industrial union, IG Metall, also objects, in part because they say bans would disproportionately hurt poorer drivers. Car makers, it says, should make older engines cleaner while politicians should promote electric vehicles and invest in technology to improve traffic flows.

"Such a sweeping demand is nonsense," Roman Zitzelsberger, head of IG Metall's southwestern Germany chapter, said this week.

The German auto industry is offering a trade off: It has offered to update software on middle-age diesel vehicles on the road in Germany to bring them in line with modern emissions standards if bans are dropped. But nearly half of the 15 million diesel cars on the road in Germany are too old to fix.

The mayors driving the movement say they have little choice. As traffic hubs, they suffer some of the world's most toxic air. And since the Volkswagen scandal discredited "clean diesel," a barrage of court orders is forcing them to address the issue.

In car-crazy Germany, where Rudolf Diesel invented the eponymous engine, Stuttgart will begin next year to ban all but the most modern diesels, around 90% of them. Munich, which is considering a similar step, must present a plan by week's end to drastically cut the city's chronic pollution, in response to a court ruling.

Paris, which prohibits any diesel vehicle made before 1997 from driving in the city, will extend the ban in July to diesel vehicles made before 2001. That will affect nearly a fifth of the nation's heavy goods vehicles and a smaller percentage of passenger vehicles.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is creating an ultralow-emission zone with a system of prohibitive road tolls. "The air in London is lethal," Mr. Khan said in April as he unveiled plans to steeply raise the toll on the most polluting vehicles starting in 2019.

Oslo, the Norwegian capital, enacted a diesel ban in January as winter smog smothered the city, fining violators nearly $180. The ban, in effect from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., was lifted once winds picked up and the air cleared.

The strategy is gaining traction beyond Europe. Mexico City joined Paris, Athens, and Madrid at a mayors' conference in December in a pledge to ban all diesel vehicles from their cities by 2025. Seoul plans to ban diesel made before 2006 from driving in the city's central districts. "It is correct and important to discuss driving bans," Dieter Reiter, Lord Mayor of Munich, said this month.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What's new for Clean Cities mobile tools and resources?

Question of the Month: What's new for Clean Cities mobile tools and resources?

Two new mobile tools have recently become available:

  • Station Locator app for Android: Android users can now access the Station Locator app through the Google Play store. As with the original iPhone app version, users can access the Station Locator from their mobile device and find the 20 closest stations within a 30-mile radius. Results display either on a map or in a list with station addresses, phone numbers, and hours of operation. Also available for iPhone from the iTunes store.
  • Trip Calculator mobile page: recently launched a mobile web page version of their popular Trip Calculator tool. This page allows users to easily calculate fuel economy for a trip while on the go.

Other Mobile Resources

  • AFDC Station Locator mobile page: If you’d rather not use an app, the Station Locator mobile page provides an easy way to view alternative fueling station information on your smartphone screen, regardless of the type of mobile device used. Users can access the Station Locator by navigating to this link in an internet browser.
  • Find-a-Car app (Android and iPhone): The Find-a-Car app allows users to view the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy ratings, fuel cost estimates, and safety ratings for new and used cars and trucks. The app also allows users to input driving habits to personalize results, and to scan QR codes on window stickers while car shopping to assist in comparing vehicles. The app is available to download on the Google Play store and download on the iTunes store.
  • Find and Compare Cars mobile page: The Find and Compare Cars mobile page allows users to search for vehicles by year, make, and model. Searches can also filter by vehicle class and combined miles per gallon (MPG).
  • EPA Fuel Economy Label mobile page: The EPA Fuel Economy Label mobile page explains what each piece of information detailed on fuel economy labels for gasoline, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric vehicles means.
  • Calculate My MPG mobile page: On this page, users receive assistance calculating and tracking fuel economy and comparing it with the EPA ratings. To get started, users must first create an account by accessing the tool online. Look for an update to the mobile page later this year.
  • Gas Mileage Tips mobile page: This page provides drivers with quick tips to obtaining better gas mileage and shows how much money per gallon they can save as a result.

You can rate and provide feedback on the Google Play and iTunes stores for the Station Locator and Find-a-Car apps. You may also contact the TRS at any time with feedback about these mobile resources, as well as suggestions for new tools.

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Saturday, June 17, 2017

LA Metro wants to have 2,200 electric buses by 2030

From KPCC.
The nation's second largest public transit agency – the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority – is going electric. On Thursday, Metro announced it plans to begin phasing out its 2,200 natural gas buses and replace them with electric battery engines by 2030.

Metro is the largest public transit agency yet to signal it intends to ditch internal combustion engines. In Southern California, the Antelope Valley and San Gabriel Valley-based Foothill transit authorities have goals of running only buses with zero tailpipe emissions in the next 15 years. But these agencies combined have fewer than 450 buses – less than 20 percent of Metro's total bus fleet.

Currently, Metro does not have any electric buses in its fleet. The agency bought five electric buses from Lancaster-based bus manufacturer BYD a few years ago, but was so disappointed with the results that BYD bought them back.

Metro staff say they are aware that the agency is taking an unprecedented step.

"I worry all the time," said John Drayton, Metro's head of vehicle technology, laughing. "This is not a comfortable 'go and buy buses that have been driven for 12 years and are service proven.' We're going into new territory here."

The plan is to begin by electrifying the Orange Line, a bus line that runs from North Hollywood through the San Fernando Valley, and the Silver Line, which runs from downtown LA to San Pedro. Drayton said electric bus technology is available today that will work on these lines, which are flatter and less demanding on the bus than many of LA County's other bus routes. If that goes well, the Metro board will decide in 2019 whether to proceed with phase two: replacing the rest of the natural gas fleet.

Drayton said there's not currently an electric bus on the market that can meet Metro's needs for its rapid or local service, where buses run 250 miles a day. "We think those vehicles will become available around 2020 or 2022," he said.

If by that time the bus technology hasn't progressed as much as Metro thought, the agency will push back the 2030 timeline.

If Metro makes the switch, the agency could see significant air and climate benefits. Electric buses have 30 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions and 20 percent fewer smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions than the cleanest natural gas bus, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. (The natural gas industry disputes this.) And as the California power grid becomes more reliant on renewable energy and less on fossil fuels, the climate benefits will increase.

For months, environmentalists and public health advocates had been pushing Metro to commit to zero tailpipe emissions technology. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti sent a letter to the agency in May urging the same.

Adrian Martinez, a clean air advocate and attorney with Earthjustice, called the announcement, "the start of something big. It's a big deal when one of the largest transit agencies in the country moves to a zero emission future."

Meanwhile the natural gas industry – which stands to lose a huge contract selling fuel to Metro's compressed natural gas buses – told the Metro board they could be making a huge mistake.

"The first five (electric) buses failed," said Todd Campbell, with the natural gas fuel supplier Clean Energy Fuels. He cautioned that the electric buses – which currently cost upwards of $200,000 more than a comparable natural gas bus – may not come down in price. He asked the board to consider where the money would come from to pay for the $3 billion needed to switch over Metro's entire fleet and build charging infrastructure.

"We have yet to see advanced clean tech for any platform go down in costs and there is a proven technology available to Metro right now that achieves deeper emissions reductions than electric at a fraction of the cost," Campbell said after the meeting, referring to "renewable natural gas," or using methane captured from dairies and landfills as fuel instead of fossil-based natural gas produced from wells.

Others told the Metro board members that in switching to electric buses, they were modeling clean technology for dirtier transportation sectors. Taken together, heavy-duty diesel trucks in Southern California emit six times as much smog-forming nitrogen oxide as transit buses, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

"You need to treat your role as a proving ground for durability, reliability, costs and other factors for the heavy-duty vehicle industry generally, not just for your fleet or for buses," said Denny Zane, the executive director of the public transit advocacy group MoveLA. "This is a much a bigger issue for you to ponder."

Historically, Metro has been a proving ground for earlier versions of clean tech: after testing out its natural gas engines in transit buses, manufacturer Cummins Westport put its engines into trucks working at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, where they were one of the technologies that helped bring down diesel emissions by 95 percent.

I guess the Staff hasn't considered where the electricity is coming from and the pollution created by the generation of the electricity. With the additional cost of the current electric buses and the cost added infrastructure - does it still pencil out for the taxpayer? Renewable CNG is extremely clean and LAMTA has CNG powered buses now.

Let's take a look at Redeem, Renewable Natural Gas (RNG)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"Natural gas vehicles a practical solution"

An opinion piece by Harvey Lamm, co-founder and former chairman and CEO of Subaru of America. He also is the co-founder of VNG, a natural gas fueling services provider.
Senator Schumer is missing the point. Congress should be reopening the rules to create more effective regulations as opposed to forcing automakers to support vehicles to meet regulations but fall short of achieving the objectives of the Alternative Motor Fuels Act of 1988 ("Democrats urge EPA not to reopen vehicle fuel efficiency rules,", March 7).

The EPA report card is mediocre. The nearly 20 million or so E85 vehicles on the road each use less than 20 gallons of E85 per year and mostly rely on gasoline. High cost and limited-utility electric vehicles cater to low-mileage drivers already driving fuel-efficient gasoline vehicles. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have an electric range that essentially saves a mere 1 gallon of gas per charge. Yet, all of these offer automakers regulatory credits and consumer tax credits. Developments in the fuel efficiency of gasoline vehicles have been a bright spot, but the low-hanging fruit has been picked.

Ignoring natural gas vehicles is a glaring regulatory omission. Proven with 22 million in use globally, NGVs use domestically abundant natural gas with inherent environmental benefits (even greater with biogas). Bi-fuel vehicles can overcome range anxiety while a compressed natural gas fueling infrastructure develops.

Most importantly, NGVs are the best application for pickups and other light-duty trucks. These are the most fuel-consuming and polluting of all light-duty vehicles, comprise three of every five vehicles sold and are the most profitable vehicles for automakers.

NGVs are a practical solution and with greater regulatory inclusion are a real opportunity to not only meet the regulations, but to maximize the objectives of clean air and energy independence.

Here you can read the letter signed by Senator Schumer and eleven other U.S. Senators.