2021 Overview

On the coattails of our twentieth anniversary, we entered 2021 with great anticipation of all the challenges and opportunities that come with a new chapter in the Forum’s history.

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At times overshadowed by year two of the global COVID-19 pandemic, a new President and Administration brought about a 180 degree turn on domestic environmental and energy policy. President Biden delivered on a campaign promise to combat climate change by reinstating US commitments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while pursuing policies and legislation to reduce emissions and reliance on fossil fuels. Simultaneously, active state and regional policy initiatives advanced California-style rules to require new zero emissions vehicles and establish more stringent emissions standards and regional electrification mandates.

The Forum told the story of the role of advanced diesel technology and low carbon renewable biofuels as one solution in helping meet the climate challenge, alongside electrification and other new fuels and technology. The Forum’s consistent message about the need for many solutions and the complexity of reducing GHG emissions across many sectors is practical and badly needed. DTF also engaged on policy issues important to the industry, ranging from the permitted uses of diesel backup generators in California, offering credible support for industry positions in the growing national debate on Right to Repair and the adoption of California style emissions and alternative fuel mandates by other states.

By emphasizing the new generation of diesel’s role as an available, affordable solution that is increasingly more efficient, particularly when paired with low carbon advanced renewable biofuels, the Forum has brought important balance and perspective to these and many other debates in 2021.

In addition to our own branded events, DTF staff were invited to speak at 11 different external industry and policymaker events during the year. Audiences included regional EPA groups, regional air pollution administrators, the nation’s top appointed environmental regulators and energy economics analysts reaching an estimated audience of more than 1,000 influencers.

Getting the industry perspective out to the media continues to be at the core of the Diesel Technology Forum’s work. Mainstream media outlets from The Wall Street Journal to the Chicago Sun-Times sought out and included DTF perspectives and opinions on topics ranging from climate change to electric trucks and the future of the internal combustion engine.

The ongoing pandemic necessitated a continued focus on virtual outreach and the 2021 campaign included seven unique public events. The first event of the year brought a focus on the role and opportunity for renewable biofuels in reducing GHG and other emissions. DTF’s second virtual event in 2021 focused on the societal benefits from the newest generation of near-zero emissions diesel trucks. Innovation and progress in five off-road sectors were the focus of five “Beyond the Highway” additional events. A total of 1,346 people joined us for the virtual event series in 2021, and more continue to do so now by watching the recordings online.

The pandemic highlighted the importance of effective digital and social communication strategies that DTF continues to perfect each day. Website traffic for the year reached record levels, while social media audiences and targeted email engagements also grew.

The period of technological disruption and shifts in US energy and climate policy is well underway. The climate challenge is complex, and diesel will continue to evolve and play a key role in global economies and key sectors for decades to come, even as zero emissions technologies emerge. This message is more important now than ever as we march toward the future.

2021 By the Numbers

The Big Picture

Newspaper

Media

  • Press Releases: 42
  • Stories: 19.3K mentions
  • Audience: 3.53 billion people
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Social Media

  • 683,918 Impressions
  • 24,080 Total Audience
  • 22,248 Total Engagements
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Policy Activities

  • Filed 5 comments on legislative and regulatory proposals
  • Spoke to 50 top state environmental officials
  • Submitted comments and background to 3 legislative proceedings of U.S. Senate Committees
  • Engaged 9 regional stakeholder groups and 3 NGOs
  • Sent 21 targeted HTML emails reaching over 16,424 people
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Digital and Virtual Outreach

  • Hosted 7 targeted webinars reaching 1,346 people
  • Sent 52 Diesel Direct Newsletters

Communications and Outreach

Media

The Forum earned significant coverage by mainstream and trade media in 2021. Our 42 press releases helped secure coverage in more than 19,300 news stories during the year with the potential to reach an estimated audience of 3.53 billion people.

2021 Year to Date Media Review - Diesel Technology Forum

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October 22, 2021

"School districts should be able to choose the bus type and technology that works for them," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. "Some may find electric buses a good fit while others will stick with diesel and utilize low-carbon renewable fuels to cut their carbon footprint and other emissions."

Amid air quality concerns, districts embrace electric... | Daily Mail Online
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March 22, 2021

“Clean air benefits of new diesel school buses are about on par with all electric buses,” said Allen Schaeffer, Diesel Technology Forum Executive Director. “New diesel buses come with particulate matter filters that reduce PM 2.5 emissions very close to zero. These buses have selective catalytic reduction systems that effectively eliminate emissions.”

Electric school buses are expensive but these 2 ideas could make getting them easier | nj.com
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October 15, 2021

“The recent growth in back-up generators is the direct result of society’s eroding confidence in the capabilities of the grid, all exacerbated by inconsistencies in energy policy and the available options to achieve policy goals while maintaining a reliable and affordable system. Many Californians are benefitting from these back-up power systems, not complaining about them.”

Diesel generators provide valuable back up to the grid | CalMatters
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August 2, 2021 – Letter to the Editor

“Pickups and large SUVs still seem to be both quite popular with consumers and profitable for manufacturers. You can draw your own conclusions about why diesel is still around with offerings just in this segment, but you might say it is where it was meant to be all along.”

It's not over for diesel engines just yet | Automotive News
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November 1, 2021

“Due to cost, reliability, availability and significant operational limitations of other options, diesel generators remain the gold standard necessary to maintain the electrical system and mitigate the potentially disastrous effects of outages. Tremendous gains in efficiency and adoption of state-of-the-art emissions technologies drastically reduce impacts when the units are operating.”

Value of diesel generators | The Press Democrat

Digital Outreach

Pandemic considerations continued to restrict in-person events and outreach efforts for most of the year. DTF’s 2021 outreach strategy relied heavily on virtual events to engage key audiences.

The Forum presented at a variety of virtual events during the year including:
  • Association of Diesel Specialists – Annual Convention
  • National Biodiesel Virtual Conference and Expo
  • Atlantic Regional Air Management Administration (MARAMA)
  • Northeast Regional Trucking Associations (two events): Massachusetts Trucking Association, the Rhode Island Trucking Association, the New Hampshire Motor Carriers Association, the Maryland Motor Truck Association, Vermont Truck and Bus Association, New Jersey Motor Truck Association
  • SAE 2021 Government/Industry Meeting
  • SAE Commercial Vehicle Conference (COMVEC 2021)
  • Environmental Council of States – State Environmental Protection (STEP) Conference
  • Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association; Environmental Council Meeting
  • International Association of Energy Economics
  • EPA Region 5 Midwest Clean Diesel Initiative — Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio

DTF Organized Events

More than 1,300 people registered to attend the Forum’s seven virtual events in 2021 that included sessions about renewable fuels, the societal benefits of new technology diesel trucks and a five-part Beyond the Highway series. A total of 32 percent of the participants were policymakers, members of the media, academia or nongovernmental organizations.


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Low Hanging Fruit on the Climate Solutions Tree

This event highlighted the time value of carbon reductions and the expanding opportunity for use of renewable diesel fuel and increasing blends of biodiesel fuel as key decarbonization strategies and included experts from the National Biodiesel Board, Neste and Renewable Energy Group.


More New Diesel Trucks on the Road = More Clean Air and Climate Benefits

Societal benefits from the newest generation of near-zero emissions diesel trucks were the subject of a virtual press event on June 2. DTF commissioned researchers at IHS Markit and AutoForecast Solutions to determine the market penetration of the latest generation of advanced diesel technology in the fleet for Class 3-8 trucks, transit buses and school buses and to determine fuel savings and emissions benefits from these new vehicles.

Despite a global pandemic, investments in new advanced technology diesel commercial trucks in the US grew by more than six percent between July 2019 and December 2020 representing nearly half – 49 percent – of all diesel commercial vehicles on the road today. Societal benefits from the more efficient and cleaner advanced diesel trucks included 202 million fewer metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and a savings of 19.8 billion gallons of diesel fuel.


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Beyond the Highway - Webinar Series

To demonstrate the innovations in efficiency and lower greenhouse gas and other emissions in five sectors of beyond the highway vehicles, DTF launched a virtual event series with a focus on the construction, marine, power generation, rail and agriculture sectors. Speakers included leaders from 10 member companies including Bosch, Caterpillar, Cummins, FPT Powertrain Technologies, John Deere, Johnson Matthey, Renewable Energy Group, Rolls-Royce Solutions America, Tenneco and Volvo.



Social Media

People engaged with the Forum through social media in record numbers in 2021. The collective audience for the brand’s accounts increased by more than five percent. The total net audience growth was up more than 25 percent. Our LinkedIn account earned great reach and engagement, with a 35 percent jump in followers during the year. Other primary social media accounts include Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. YouTube and Vimeo are our primary homes for digital videos.


Digital Marketing

Diesel Direct

The Forum’s Diesel Direct weekly email newsletter reaches more than 3,200 subscribers from government, industry, media and non-governmental organizations each week. This newsletter is the top referral source for traffic to our website. Visitors arriving from the newsletter spend an average of seven minutes on our website. This newsletter is a free resource. If you don’t receive it already, subscribe now and check out past issues.

Newsletter Subscription

As part of our digital outreach effort, DTF developed and distributed a series of targeted email blasts providing keen insights and analysis about policy issues of the day. In 2021 this effort included 21 separate HTML campaigns to 16,424 verified policymakers at the federal, state and local levels of government on a wide range of issues.

Diesel Direct
Policy Insights

Policy and Research: Engaging Federal and State Policymakers

The Forum’s work targets timely policies and issues at the federal and state levels, ensuring that our perspective is considered in a range of policy initiatives.

With a newly energized national debate on climate change coupled with progressive state policy on emissions and energy, there were many areas in need of a balanced perspective about diesel technology. DTF proactively engaged on a wide range of policy issues in 2021 and also responded to many queries from federal, state and local policymakers to provide important perspectives about the current and future roles and impacts of diesel technology. A sampling of 2021 issues and activities includes:

Research

Pandemic considerations continued to restrict in-person events and outreach efforts for most of the year. DTF’s 2021 outreach strategy relied heavily on virtual events to engage key audiences.

  • New Technology Diesel Penetration and Societal Benefits Research: DTF commissioned research and data acquisition from IHS Markit and AutoForecast Solutions to deliver national research results that found that 46 percent of all registered commercial trucks were the newest generation diesel, and that the new more efficient trucks had saved nearly 20 billion barrels of oil.
  • VW Settlement Spending Allocations: Analysis of state data sets found that eight of 10 trucks replaced in VW settlement actions were replaced with new technology diesel.

Policy

  • Delivered industry perspective to policymakers regarding UN Global Climate Conference COP26 via direct and media outreach
  • Basic education and outreach with air quality officials from four regional US EPA offices
  • Engagement with top environmental regulators in all 50 states
  • Responded to inquiries and requests for information from three US Senators’ staff and three Senate Committees
  • Argued for the accepted and continued use of diesel generators in California's planned public safety shutoff events to prevent wildfires
  • Adoption of California emissions rules and requirements for heavy-duty vehicles by 13 other states
  • Incidence of tampering with emissions controls in pickup trucks and commercial vehicles
  • Testified on right to repair legislation in two states (MD and RI)
  • Provided insights on the factors influencing the transition to diesel alternatives in the on and off-road sectors
  • Presented societal benefits and rate of adoption of new technology diesel vehicles as well as the utilization of advanced renewable biodiesel fuels
  • Discussed opportunities for reducing diesel emissions in ports (NY, NJ, Houston, Baltimore)

If we're gonna get to net zero emissions by 2050, we cannot do it without coal, oil, gas being part of the mix. We must use those technologies to keep people employed, to clean up and to remain energy independent."

- Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm in her confirmation hearing

Looking Ahead

The year ahead promises an amplified global conversation on tackling climate change. Every level of government, federal, state, regional and local, are evaluating climate resiliency and decarbonization of the transportation sector. The fuels and vehicles that will power future freight movement and other sectors are top of mind.

The need for fact-based and rational perspectives to solving the global climate challenge is greater than ever before. This challenge is more complex than any single technology or solution can meet. We should embrace all proven solutions – new fuels and technologies hold promise but are a long way from market acceptance and meaningful penetration at scale with many hurdles yet to overcome.

With diesel, we have an advanced, energy efficient, near zero emissions technology available today that, especially when coupled with renewable biofuels, offers an immediate, available and affordable solution to decarbonizing various sectors of the economy.

It is an important option today and will be tomorrow. That is our work for the year ahead.

DTF Members