Lung Association 'State of Air 2014' Recognizes Contributions of Clean Diesel

Cleaner diesel fleets and power plants called primary contributors to clean air for nearly half of Americans

Default Company Logo

The “State of the Air 2014” report by the American Lung Association (ALA) finds that nearly half of Americans live in U.S. counties where ozone or particulate emission levels are meeting EPA clean air standards. ALA singles out cleaner diesel fleets as one of two main contributors to that success for particulate emissions. Cleaner power plants were also identified as a key contributor.

“Engine and equipment makers together with fuel refiners and emissions control technology companies made significant investments to produce this new generation of clean diesel technology with near zero levels of emissions,” said Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “It is rewarding to see the benefits of this work reflected in the quality of our environment."

Learn more about the American Lung Association “State of the Air 2014” report

Clean Diesel Engines Reduce NOx & PM by 95%

Schaeffer said since 2007, the introduction of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel has enabled significant strides in diesel engine technology that today result in near zero particulate emissions. For example:

  • It would take more than 60 2014-model-year heavy diesel trucks to equal the particulate emissions of one 1988 model diesel truck.
  • Researchers at University of California-Riverside found that twice as many particulate emissions now come from charbroiling hamburgers than come from on-road diesel vehicles.
  • In Southern California this year more particulate emissions come from brake dust and tire wear than from diesel trucks.

“This clean diesel technology is now found in fuel efficient passenger cars to the full range of commercial trucks and buses and most recently to construction equipment and engines used for power generation and other industrial activities,” Schaeffer said. “The new diesel trucks, cars, buses and off-road engines have reduced particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 95 percent in the past two decades.”

As of 2012, nearly one-third of all commercial trucks on the road in the U.S. were 2007 or newer generation technology, which delivers the near zero particulate emissions benefits. Nearly 12 percent are also near zero emissions for nitrogen oxides -- a key precursor to ozone formation.

The 2014 generation of clean diesel technology also uses three to five percent less fuel, generating fewer emissions of greenhouse gases.

Modernizing & Upgrading Older Diesel Engines

“As the ALA report notes, there is more work to be done,” Schaeffer said. “Manufacturers have also developed and adapted clean diesel technologies to significantly reduce particulate emissions in older diesel engines that continue to be in service. More than 40 approved retrofit devices are now on the market which can be installed on qualifying vehicles and equipment to reduce in-use emissions by 25 to 85 percent."

The need for Congress the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), which supplies grants to support fleet owners' efforts to upgrade older diesels, was one important recommendation in the State of the Air 2014.

“Unfortunately, the President’s budget included no funding for DERA in the coming year,” Schaeffer said. “Congress can, and should, correct this by including funding for one of the most important and successful clean-air programs. In nearly all cases, the emission reductions and clean air benefits are immediate as soon as the upgrades are made.”

DERA Delivers $13 of Benefit for Every $1 Spent

“DERA has a proven track record of reducing emissions and improving air quality in all 50 states,” Schaeffer said. “According to EPA, DERA delivers a $13:1 return on investment. Often the return is even higher when considering matching funds at a rate of 2-or-3 to 1 that further enhance the investments.

“DERA’s effectiveness has never been questioned. We are hopeful that the bipartisan support DERA has received in both the U.S. Senate and House will initiate action in Congress to save the program.”

Learn more about modernizing diesel equipment 

Schaeffer said the Diesel Technology Forum has worked for the past several years with the ALA and numerous other health, environmental, industry and government organizations in support of DERA and modernizing older diesel engines.

The Administration’s 2015 budget proposal would reduce DERA funding from the $20 million contained in the Continuing Resolution in FY 2014 to zero in 2015. The landmark DERA grant program was originally authorized as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to fund upgrades and modernize the oldest, higher-emitting diesel engines, complementing the stringent emissions standards EPA set for new diesel engines beginning in 2007. The program has evolved to also include deployment of many fuel-saving technologies.


Schaeffer said new clean diesel technology and fuel has resulted in:

A 98% Reduction in Emissions from New Commercial Diesel Trucks

To learn more go to

A 90% Reduction in Emissions from New Farm and Construction Equipment

To learn more go to

A 97% Reduction in Sulfur in New Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel

To learn more go to

Diesel Cars and Pickup Trucks That Are 30% More Fuel Efficient Than Gasoline Vehicles

To learn more go to

New Clean Diesel Buses That Are Comparable to CNG Buses

To learn more go to and