Clean diesel trucks are already on our roads. Electrification is not the only way to fight climate changeon April 6, 2021 at 8:00 pm

I’m not sure what is more out of touch: the Sun-Times editorial board’s conflated and outdated perspectives about diesel technology, or the selection of a 19-year-old image to run alongside.

According to our analysis of IHS Markit data (2020), fully 64% of all commercial vehicles of class 3-8 operating on Illinois roads today are the newest generation of near-zero emissions diesel technology. It would take more than 60 of these 2021 model year trucks to have the same level of emissions as the 1992 model in the photo. Conflating individual pickup truck owners’ choices to illegally modify their vehicles is a cheap shot and an illogical comparison against diesel.

Even more surprising is that by advocating for electrification, the Sun-Times is taking a direct stand against a major home-grown industry and employer. Illinois is home to the fourth-largest production of biodiesel in the country, a low-carbon renewable fuel that today is reducing emissions from all diesel engines both new and existing.

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Truck and engine manufacturers are developing a range of powertrain options for their customers including hydrogen fuel cells, advanced diesel and natural gas technology. None are perfect, even electric. Today, fully 40% of Illinois electricity comes from coal and natural gas, so total emissions from electric vehicles would not be zero, yet considerable state investment in infrastructure and incentives for electric vehicle purchase will be needed. As for the future of diesel, analysts agree that diesel technology will continue to be the dominant technology in heavy-duty truck applications for decades to come.

Tackling climate change is a big challenge. There is not a single best solution. We should value greenhouse gas and other emissions reductions in whatever form they come, but with eyes wide open, and not make a case based on old and outdated perspectives. Until an all-electric future could be realized, we need continued steady progress.

Greater benefits to Illinois will accrue faster with more of the newer generation of diesel trucks hitting the road and expanding use of renewable fuels.

Allen Schaeffer, executive director, Diesel Technology Forum

A tribute to Rabbi Marx

I would like to lift up a slice of Rabbi Robert Marx’s persona to complement Maureen O’Donnell’s fine tribute to this Chicago civil rights icon.

From my own experience with him, a close colleague and friend from the movement years, Robert embraced and offered an unusual gentleness in the midst of uncompromising righteous anger. While he named evil sharply in his public statements, he was a calm lamb in mediating arguments at strategy meetings. His was a tender soul, exuding humility and care of each individual in any group.

We shared marches, as with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Aug. 5, 1966, when all three of us were hit with flying missiles in Marquette Park. We shared podiums, prayer services, interfaith weddings and even played chess together. Robert’s gentle spirit pervaded his prophetic voice on all matters of injustice. What a mensch.

Rev. Martin Deppe, Ravenswood Manor

Another taxpayer burden

Now that they have passed a bill gratuitously raising over 2,000 Chicago firefighters’ pensions and thus sticking the City of Chicago and its taxpayers, already drowning in unfunded governmental pension obligations, with millions of dollars in new pension obligations — what’s next for the Illinois legislature and Gov. J.B. Pritzker?

Pushing through a bill forcing Chicago to extend its abominable parking meter deal by 20 years?

Tom Field, Lincoln Park

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