The preliminary Volkswagen diesel settlement includes not only provisions for buybacks and vehicle modifications, but also funding for mitigation of the environmental damage caused by excess pollution from the affected TDI cars.
A public comment period for the settlement—which received preliminary approval from a federal judge last month—ended last week.
While the buyback and modifications plans likely received the most attention, a diesel-industry lobbying group also came out against the mitigation plan.
In its current form, the plan will not meet emissions-mitigation targets set by regulators, the Diesel Technology Forum said in a statement released last Thursday.
The group said the current plan relies too much on "unavailable technologies," and that funds should be redirected elsewhere.
Not surprisingly, it specifically points to "clean diesel" as the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions.
The preliminary VW diesel settlement includes a $2.7 billion Environmental Mitigation Trust to fund measures that mitigate the lifetime excess nitrogen-oxide (NOx) emissions of Volkswagen TDI vehicles equipped with illegal "defeat device" software.
Funds will go toward "clean emissions technology," according to the settlement. Among other provisions, it permits the money to be used to pay for projects within the existing Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.
The Diesel Technology Forum specifically called for equal treatment of government and private fleets, and what it termed a "more technology-neutral" approach to reduction tactics.
Instead, the forum calls for increasing the use of funds just to replace older diesel trucks with new, lower-emissions models.
That may in fact be how some of the $2.7 billion Environmental Mitigation Trust funds are used, under the previous Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.
But the group argues this should be the primary use of funds, claiming new diesels will be substantially cheaper than alternatives.
Two BNSF locomotives hauling coal trains meet near Wichita Falls, Texas
New diesels can cut 1 ton of NOx emissions for under $20,000, compared to over $1 million for "other approaches," the Diesel Technology Forum claims.
The current plan also favors, certain alternatives to diesel—such as electric freight locomotives for railroads—aren't readily available in the U.S., and emphasizes government over private vehicle fleets, the group claims.
While the settlement has received preliminary approval, its measures cannot be implemented until final approval is given by the same federal judge.
That can only come at or after a hearing now scheduled for October 18.