At the "Game Changer Summit" to promote near-zero emission heavy-duty trucks, the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo on Monday spotlighted the heavy-duty truck sector as a focal point for natural gas vehicles (NGV) growth by fleet operators after 20 years of technology advances in engines and fueling.

Separately, the California NGV Coalition urged the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports, which combined form the nation's busiest, to embark on a truck program applying the near-zero emission engines and renewable natural gas (RNG), or biomethane fuel.

Calling it a "move to zero" and a "journey, not a destination," Cummins Westport Inc. President Rob Neitzke outlined the latest low-nitrogen oxide (NOx) NGV engines.

Cummins’ NGV engines are agnostic about whether they use RNG, compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas, he told his ACT audience. "It could be compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas or RNG; it all looks the same. But from the environmental perspective, our engines using RNG are a real game-changer."

Cummins engineers have "stood on the shoulders of many other people to arrive at a place where we have the best alternative [for clean transportation] out there," he said.

The NGV Coalition urged the two major Southern California ports to develop an aggressive clean trucks initiative as part of an updated 2017 Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP). The coalition has developed the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) Now Plan to cut emissions from the 13,000 heavy-duty trucks serving the ports daily.

The state coalition's ACT Now Plan calls for the ports to immediately increase zero- and near-zero-emission trucks deployed as a way to improve regional air quality, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and boost the regional economy. About 80% of the region's smog is estimated to come from the transportation sector.

The ports' CAAP discussion draft relies on what the NGV Coalition called "a long-term transition plan" to implement zero-emission technology, leaving room for "diesel trucks to continue polluting the air for another 17 years," a coalition spokesperson said.

In contrast, the accelerated ACT Now Plan by 2023 would reduce annual NOx emissions by 99%; reduce petroleum consumption by 100% (more than 115 million gallons of diesel annually through the use of RNG; and spark $1-1.3 billion in private sector investment in infrastructure and the RNG production facilities.

"This is a public health issue, especially for underserved communities living near the freeways that serve the ports," said Greg Roche, vice president of Clean Energy Fuels Corp.

NGV Coalition President Thomas Lawson noted that Cummins’ new engines and the use of RNG "exceed the required air quality standard by 90% and they are available today." George Minter, regional vice president for Southern California Gas Co. said the NGV trucks "can immediately deliver clean air benefits and transform the ports' diesel-dominated freight movement system."