December 19, 2017
CARB Approves Funding for Clean Transportation
CARB approved the 2017–18 Funding Plan for Clean Transportation Incentives at its Dec. 14 board meeting. The funding plan covers a total of $663 million in clean transportation investments from four related funding sources, including $560 million for low-carbon transportation investments funded with proceeds from cap-and-trade program auctions. That pot allocates $188 million to clean truck and bus vouchers, including low-NOx engine incentives.
The funding plan also allots $28.64 million to the Air Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), per the 2017 Budget Act; $25 million from Volkswagen settlement funds for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs); and $50 million in onetime funding for cleaner warehouses as part of the zero- and near-zero-emission freight facilities project.
Unfortunately, the plan CARB passed did not include changes the Coalition recommended, such as creating an equal baseline for incentives across alternative fuels, incorporating NGVs in all areas of funding, and increasing voucher amounts to better offset the cost of switching from diesel to natural gas engines. However, CARB staff made a commitment to reevaluate the incremental costs for adopting the 12-liter Cummins Westport near-zero-NOx engine when it becomes commercially available in February.
On Dec. 15, CARB held a workshop to discuss the proposed Innovative Clean Transit rule, which would require a gradual transition to zero-emission transit technologies. The Coalition is formulating a comment letter with suggestions on how to develop this rule.
EPA Finalizes 2018 Renewable Fuel Volumes
The EPA released its final ruling on the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires that transportation fuels sold in the U.S. include a minimum volume of renewable fuels. The EPA recently finalized the renewable fuel volumes for 2018 as well as the amount of biomass-based diesel required in 2019. The agency maintained the statutory maximum of 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol as well as the current production levels of 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel and 4.29 billion gallons of advanced biodiesel. It also upheld the 2017 requirement for 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel for 2018, a category that includes RNG. The 2018 mandate maintains the status quo, which disappointed the renewable fuels advocates, who had lobbied for greater amounts of renewables.
Attorney General Becerra Sues EPA Over Failure to Establish Clean Air Protections
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with CARB, has sued the EPA over its failure to designate any areas of the country as having more smog than allowed by federal Clean Air Act requirements. The EPA failed to make these designations, which require any town or city not meeting the requirements to actively improve its air quality, by its Oct. 1 deadline.
EPA Seeks Input on Developing West Coast Alternative Fuel Station Corridor
The West Coast Collaborative Medium and Heavy-Duty Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Corridor Coalition (WCC AFICC), an EPA group, is asking for input on the development of a north-south corridor of alternative fuel stations to serve medium- and heavy-duty trucks in California, Oregon, and Washington. The group is also seeking suggestions on how to best spend the $111.38 million that has been allocated to building California’s portion of the corridor. Members of the WCC AFICC include CARB and the CEC, as well as agencies in Oregon and Washington. John Mikulin, public fleet and trucking sector lead of the WCC, is heading up this project; contact Mikulin at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to make suggestions.
Toni Atkins Is Set to Become New Senate Leader
Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) is expected to succeed Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Léon as the leader of the California Senate next year. The consensus pick of the Senate Democratic Caucus, Atkins will be formally elected in January and will transition into the role later in the year when de Léon terms out. Atkins was elected to the Senate last November after serving six years in the Assembly; she was speaker for the last two years of her term. She will be the first woman to lead the California Senate.
Clean Cities Program Releases CNG Maintenance Facility Guidelines
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program has published the first guidance document for indoor CNG vehicle maintenance facilities. The Compressed Natural Gas Vehicle Maintenance Facility Modifications Handbook will help fleet operators understand safe handling and use practices for working with CNG.
NGVAmerica Releases CNG Fuel System Inspection Recommendations
NGVAmerica has released a document outlining a four-tier CNG fuel system inspection process. Called the Compressed Natural Gas Fuel System Inspection Guidance, it recommends a detailed inspection of the entire CNG fuel system, rather than just the CNG storage tank. The four tiers are a pre-service visual inspection of the complete CNG fuel system before the NGV is placed into service; a cursory visual inspection by the driver before and after every trip; a general visual inspection conducted by a technician as part of regular vehicle preventive maintenance; and a detailed visual inspection, which requires accessing all components of the full CNG fuel system, at least once a year.
Omnitrans Switches to CNG
Omnitrans, a public transit agency in San Bernardino Valley, has replaced aging LNG equipment with new CNG fueling systems at two stations. The transit agency installed three CNG compressors at its San Bernardino station and two CNG compressors at its Montclair station. The new systems include 24-7 local and remote monitoring systems, methane detection, and automatic and manual emergency shutdown features. The agency expects switching from LNG to CNG at both stations to save a total of $1.6 million in fuel costs annually. The $8.5 million project was funded with money from the Federal Transit Administration, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and local programs.
Photo ©Westport Innovations, used by permission