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The California High Speed Rail Authority broke ground in early January on the nation’s first high-speed rail system, but additional attention also is focused on the fact that some of the world’s most advanced and cleanest diesel equipment will be used to construct the historic project.

“While there is a debate on the merits of the high speed rail project in general, one thing that is not in debate is the readiness of the most advanced construction machines and equipment to build the project,” says Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum.

“It is fitting that a project of this size will be built with the latest generation of advanced clean diesel technology. This massive project is being done with the most advanced and sustainable green construction practices, which is why the latest clean diesel engines and equipment that meet the nation’s most stringent environmental standards – known as ‘Tier 4’ – are the technology of choice. No other fuel or technology can match the combination of power, efficiency, performance and now near-zero emissions of these machines.

“The standards, established by both the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have been in effect since 2014 and will deliver significant air quality benefits to the communities surrounding the project and result in a 90 percent reduction in particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen, an ozone forming compound,” Schaeffer adds.

The new generation Tier 4 clean diesel technology achieves a substantial reduction in emissions of particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) from engines deployed on off-road equipment including construction equipment manufactured beginning in 2014.   According to U.S. EPA estimates, by 2030 the national benefits of Tier 4 engines will include:

    > Reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 1 million tons or 82 percent
    > Reducing particle matter emissions by 90 percent
    > Reducing sulfur dioxide emissions by 99.7 percent

The 14-year, $31 billion high speed rail project will ultimately span more than 800 miles and link Los Angeles and San Francisco, contribute to economic development and a cleaner environment, create jobs and preserve agricultural and protected lands.  Construction on parts of the system are already underway along a 29 mile route from Madera to Fresno, with clean diesel powered equipment conducting demolition, drilling and viaduct work as well as water, sewer and storm drain relocation and general excavation. Diesel engines power more than two-thirds of all construction equipment, and power all of the heavy cranes, crawlers and excavators that will be the workhorses.    

In November 2014, the High Speed Rail Alliance and the U.S. EPA recognized clean diesel technology as a key part of the Green Construction partnership.

“Tier 4 equipment will not only deliver clean air benefits to local communities, but also the potential for significant fuel savings for contractors that translates into greenhouse gas emission reductions,” Schaeffer says.  “The Tier 4 rules are the latest milestone on the clean diesel pathway established by the Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“We are proud to represent the leaders in manufacturing of clean diesel construction engines, machines and equipment including Caterpillar, Cummins, CNH Industrial, Deere, Isuzu, MTU America, Volvo and Yanmar.” 

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