Kansas City Clean Cities and Central Kansas Clean Cities comments on KS VW Mitigation Plan

Dear Director Brunetti, Mr. Watson and Ms. Waters:

Metropolitan Energy Center, Kansas City Regional Clean Cities and Central Kansas Clean Cities appreciate the opportunity to submit comments on behalf of our members and stakeholders regarding the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (“KDHE”) draft mitigation plan for the use of the funds available to Kansas under the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust (“EMT”).

Our overall goal is to ensure that investments made by KDHE through the EMT result in meaningful, long-term and cost-effective reductions in nitrogen oxides (“NOx”) and other polluting emissions from Kansas’ transportation sector, and that new alternative fuel projects are feasible to carry out under the program rules.

First, we would like to thank KDHE for undertaking a public process prior to developing the draft plan. Numerous elements of the draft are excellent – especially noteworthy is your intent for using the DERA option – and we offer the following recommendations for the Draft Mitigation Plan to maximize the impact of EMT funds:

• Ensure fair access to funds across both urban and rural areas. The draft plan states that KDHE anticipates offering most opportunities statewide, but at the same time may list priority areas based on larger NOx emissions. About 32% of Kansans live in rural areas, higher than the national average . The DERA option may be particularly beneficial for school bus fleets serving rural areas, which must travel longer distances between students than urban areas.

• Give priority to alternative fuel replacements by limiting diesel replacements. Diesel replacement funding is at the same reimbursement rate as alternative fuels in some categories. Under section 3 of the initial spending plan breakout KDHE proposed to provide 25% of the total cost to replace an eligible diesel engine, regardless of what type of engine with which it is replaced. Alternative fuel vehicles and electric vehicles (AFVs and EVs) typically have greater up-front costs than traditional diesel, which is a disincentive for fleets to buy-in when they can get the same reimbursement for a less expensive diesel replacement. Specific recommendations:
>> Require all diesel engines purchased – for replacement or repower, for mobile or stationary – to be B20 compatible, where B20 is a blend of 20% biodiesel with 80% ULSD.
>> Provide greater funds in all categories for alternative fuel and electric compared to their diesel equivalents. Alternatively, limit diesel replacements to two per application, but allow a greater number of replacements (up to 10) per applicant for new alternative fuel projects. Fleets that commit to alternative fuel often phase in this investment over three or more years. Allowing larger numbers of AFV will permit this approach. It also generates greater NOx reduction by stimulating the use of cleaner engines faster.
>> Especially in certain low-speed and stop-start duty cycles, diesel engines do not perform up to their modeled EPA emission standard. Provide for higher reimbursement rates in your final plan and/or in your RFPs for alternative fuel trash haulers but also for other AFV replacements in low-speed and stop-start duty cycles.
>> Allow for diesel replacements only on older vehicles (MY2002 or earlier).

• Use the HDVEC emission calculator for RFP evaluations. On page 8, section D, you mention use of DEQ for simplified purposes of assigning emission values to project types. However, for evaluating RFP submissions on a qualitative basis, we recommend using the Heavy-Duty Vehicle Emissions Calculator (HDVEC) for the most up-to-date alternative fuel emission data. These data are incorporated into tools built and managed by Argonne National Laboratories and are updated as frequently as feasible when new data comes available. Argonne recently released this new tool based on its GREET and AFLEET models, as well as on EPA’s MOVES model. If electric generation and transmission emissions are to be considered in the calculation, production and transport should be considered for the other fuel options, as well.

From the HDVEC web site : “The Heavy-Duty Vehicle Emissions Calculator (HDVEC) was developed to estimate the vehicle operation nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM2.5), as well as the well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) of commercially available alternative fuel medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. This tool is ideally suited to aid fleets and decision makers when comparing vehicle technologies for emission reductions and to consider allocation of funding.

“The tool can calculate results for 3 project types:
• Environmental Mitigation w/ Scrappage
New alternative fuel versus new diesel, plus additional benefit from early retirement of scrapped vehicle.
• Environmental Mitigation w/ Repower
Vehicle after repower versus diesel vehicle before repower
• Clean Vehicle Replacement
New alternative fuel versus new diesel.

“The first two are specifically for environmental mitigation projects such as those funded under the Clean Diesel Settlement or the Diesel Emission Reduction Program, while the third provides results without the scrappage benefit.”

• Confirm beneficiaries are primarily based in Kansas. Due to the nature of vehicles and the high density of Kansas’ population residing near the Kansas-Missouri border, there will, of course, be some usage of repowered and replaced vehicles across state lines. However, it is important to prioritize KDHE’s VW settlement funds for Kansas-based fleets. This can be measured by applicants providing justification that at least 50% of their fleet’s run time is within Kansas.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment and for all your hard work on behalf of Kansas citizens.


Kelly Gilbert
Executive Director, Metropolitan Energy Center
Coordinator, Kansas City Regional Clean Cities Coalition

Tami Alexander
Program Coordinator, Metropolitan Energy Center
Coordinator, Central Kansas Clean Cities Coalition