Now that he's retired, Norman Mineta – the longest serving U.S. Transportation Secretary in history – is publicly speaking the kind of plain sense you don't much get from sitting politicians. Or, at least, he's taking the credit and the heat for it. Mineta released a white paper at a National Press Club that presented the position of the U.S. Coalition for Advanced Diesel Cars, a group founded in 2009.

The paper title is a clear enough indicator of the lengthy points made: "The Case for Technology Neutral Public Policy in Fuel Economy Debate: Allowing Performance To Determine Solutions." Mineta asks that, instead of the government choosing which technologies it thinks are superior and supporting them with taxpayer dollars, in this case EVs and plug-in hybrids, that it take a technology-neutral approach and allow each technology and mass-market adoption decide where fiscal resources should be placed.

Among other things, the paper argues that high-efficiency gasoline and diesel engines are within 15 percent of the performance of EVs and hybrids, and that they are the most effective way to lower emissions in the near- and medium-term. As well, the Administration's preference for battery-assisted vehicles is taking R&D money away from potentially better solutions, taxpayer money should be used to subsidize technologies for so little return and – surprise – the CAFE measurement methodology is outdated.

Mineta met current Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to discuss diesels, but it would be shocking to imagine the administration would walk back from the initiatives its been pushing almost since it took office.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 54 Comments
      lasertekk
      • 3 Years Ago
      He barking up the wrong tree. It's not a DOT thing that's the case. It's an EPA issue, think pollution.
      harbour
      • 3 Years Ago
      Where is natural gas in this equation. Omitted by the idiots/regulators/politicians who want corn alcohol in your gas. Let us not allow industry to do anything to advance by themselves, that decision is up to the government. If an industry will not pay the politicians, and that includes the sitting president, the government will not help them, it is only those who contribute millions to the politicians that get government "help.".
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        guyverfanboy
        • 3 Years Ago
        The Jaguar XF 2.2 diesel averages 47 MPG, that's a hell of a difference compared to the gas version!
          • 3 Years Ago
          @guyverfanboy
          [blocked]
        LEDfoot
        • 3 Years Ago
        No, EVs and hybrids to not reduce our dependency on foreign oil. If anything they increase our foreign dependence because of all the rare earth metals required (almost all of those resources seem to be in China). But more importantly, they just don't work. Personally I think our best bet for cleaner emissions and energy independence lies in high efficiency diesels and biodiesel fuel. EVs will have a place eventually, but not without a significant breakthrough in energy storage technology which isn't going to happen anytime soon. The government also does not need to provide incentives for this research, the payoffs for the company that produces this breakthrough are going to be astronomical, that's plenty of incentive already. The only "benefit" the current EV incentives are providing are allowing manufacturers to sell substandard products to clueless customers who are duped into thinking they are doing something good.
          axiomatik
          • 3 Years Ago
          @LEDfoot
          You are wrong on so many points. The US has huge deposits of rare earth metals. We just shut down the mines because China produces them cheaper. "they just don't work" EVs and Hybrids 'just don't work'? That's a laughable comment. Ask the people who have owned their Prius for 10 years if it 'just doesn't work'. Sure EVs or hybrids can't replace every gas or diesel engine in use. No, we won't see battery-powered semis in the near future. That's not the point. The point is that there are a lot of applications were EVs or hybrids do make a lot of sense, and we should have the option of using them if we want. But until the last few years, we didn't even have the option of using an EV, it just wasn't on the market. I for one want more options, not less. EVs don't need a significant breakthrough to be viable. In the past year, I could have easily replaced my daily driver with the Nissan Leaf. I went on precisely 1 trip that exceeded the range of the Leaf, and in that 1 instance I could have rented a car or used my wife's car. The fact of the matter is that today, using today's EVs, at least 10% of the cars on the road could be replaced with EVs with very little inconvenience to their owners.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Plasticar
      • 3 Years Ago
      Anyone with any reasonable knowledge of automotive engineering would say, "duh". What he says is exactly true. Depending on your driving needs, diesel and high efficiency gas (like Mazda sky-active) are in the ballpark of hybrids, and are here NOW. We can reduce emissions and our need to import oil from countries who use that money to fight against us. Plus, for the long term, I would buy a diesel, not interested in having a hybrid past 100k. I don't mind helping research into battery tech, as it does and will help across many areas. Other important research, however, should be in lightweight materials and design, friction reduction, and aero improvements. Those areas help ANY type of vehicle. Also, use some moneys to fund side skirts on semi trucks, and other things like that that help NOW. There is no one answer, but there are answers that help now and some that help later.
        Georgie Porgie
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Plasticar
        Agreed, but isn't he arguing for taxpayer handouts in terms of research for diesels etc, instead of the heavy bias towards EV techs ? My biggest problem with that is that diesels have been around in vehicles for 80 years ? Thats a pretty big head start already. Even tho EV vehicles have been around in some fashion for a while ( Forklifts and Golfcarts ), I think your return on investment in research is still potentially a lot higher with EV and dependant techs ( Batteries, regeneration, etc ). If there are still large strides to be made in terms of efficiency and emissions in the internal combustion engine, then where have the automakers been spending their RD money all this time ? I don't think they deserve even more taxpayer money to bailout something they've been dragging their heals on for nearly a century. I love me some petrol burning grins, not an eco freak. But I cringe whenever 'taxpayer funded' comes into the conversation.
      IBx27
      • 3 Years Ago
      We do treat diesels fairly. We regulate the real poisonous noxious fumes coming out of tailpipes, not harmless CO2. If we let euro-spec diesels into the country, you'd get a lot of putrid smoggy cars on the highway that everyone would have to pass quickly so we don't breathe that crap in.
        Frank Bevalaqua
        • 3 Years Ago
        @IBx27
        The diesels nowadays are cleaner than gas engines. I just bought a Mercedes GL350 diesel which uses "Bluetec" technology - it injects an Adblue chemical into the emission system which breaks down the NOx into NO2 and H20. It also breaks down the black smog. You can't even notice the smell when you stand behind the car with the engine running. Furthermore, the GL Merecedes (a large three row SUV) with the turbo-diesel engine gets low 20's mileage which is a lot better than the 12-14mpg I got on my last SUV. If the idiots in Washington could figure this out, they would mandate more clean diesels and reduce fuel consumption by 30-50%. But I'm sure there's some lobbyist who works for the oil companies who doesn't want to see that happen. BTW, my diesel GL has 400 ft-lbs of torque! Every SUV should be a diesel.
          IBx27
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Frank Bevalaqua
          But for any diesel engine that doesn't inject piss into the exhaust(it's urea, no matter what fancy name the germans give it), it's very noticeably a diesel. We don't need mandates for more diesels, we need to wait for more companies to use the urea system to make their diesels fit our emission standards.
          AcidTonic
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Frank Bevalaqua
          @IBx27 It's piss? Really? Are you retarded? Please google for one second before posting crap like that. It's similar in name only. One is a complex chemical, one is piss.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        clquake
        • 3 Years Ago
        Pretty sure he doesn't have the power to control free will. The US buyers demanded SUV's, the manufacturers responded with SUV's.
        Sandy Lee
        • 3 Years Ago
        This gentleman also arranged for over 1500 passenger aircraft to land safely in less than 2 hours on September 11. He has plenty to teach anyone, if they would only listen.
        tinted up
        • 3 Years Ago
        Fascist Nick thinks that the head of the DoT needs to be in charge of Vehicle distribution. "Those evil monsters down at the DoT forced GM to make all those Hummers without even thinking about turning a profit!" We live in a capitalist economy you fascist, motivation among peers is supposed to be powered by the incentive to make money, not please little tree huggers like you.
      Jared Schwager
      • 3 Years Ago
      This guy has my respect. I don't like the fact that the government is supporting electric vehicles when they in fact don't really save on emissions much at all. They are just offsetting emissions. It still takes a lot of energy to build batteries and then there's the fact that they have to be shipped around the world. And of course there's also emissions created when you use a crapload of electricity to charge the batteries. Plus gasoline and diesel engines sound better! Hahaha
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jared Schwager
        [blocked]
          LEDfoot
          • 3 Years Ago
          You would be well served by heeding your own advice about doing some research before posting. (Oh, and your opinions are not facts no matter how much you want them to be.)
        rlog100
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jared Schwager
        Sorry, it takes energy to build IC engines and takes energy to distill oil to gas and energy to haul gasoline to gastanks. Kind of funny how the full montey of creating any alternative is compare only to the end product of gasoline. As for pollution, offsetting carbon is not necessary so much, but a stationary powerplant will alway be better at non-CO2 emissions. As for me, I'm not particularly wedded to gasoline since there seem to be no upper limit to its cost.
          CommonSense
          • 3 Years Ago
          @rlog100
          So you're saying it doesn't take any energy to produce batteries, ship them, or charge them?
      dreadcthulhu01
      • 3 Years Ago
      Diesels are being treated fairly; diesel vehicles in the US have to meet the same emissions laws as gasoline (or any other fuel, for that matter); unlike in Europe where they allow diesels to spew out a lot more NOX than gasoline engines. Diesel is taxed slightly more in the US, (26 cents per gallon vs 18.4, at the federal level, state taxes vary) but that is fair since diesel has more energy per gallon. And secondly, wide scale use of battery vehicles would mean a massive reduction in the amount of oil needed, down to the point where biofuel production could handle the demand, freeing the US economy of its dependence on an unstable commodity. Even if every American who could switched to a tiny diesel econobox (as are so popular in Europe), the US would be hard pressed to be supply enough oil to meet that demand. And even if the US became self sufficient in oil, barring nationalization of the US oil industry, shocks in the oil supply would still cause harm to Americans, as the Chinese and Euros would want to buy American oil if they couldn't get middle eastern oil.
        lasertekk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dreadcthulhu01
        ding ding ding. It's an emissions issue.
        LEDfoot
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dreadcthulhu01
        Battery technology has a long, long, long, long way to go before it will be efficient enough. The government does not need to provide any incentives for that R&D because the payoffs for whoever makes a significant breakthrough here is incentive enough. Besides you are just advocating that we become dependent on other foreign resources like rare-earth and other precious metals which currently seem to only be found in China, that sounds like a brilliant move. Current biofuels are not viable, ethanol cost more energy to produce than what we get out of it thus _increasing_ or energy demand and dependence on foreign oil. Highly efficient diesel engines and bio-diesel have a much better chance of giving us a cost and energy efficient solution.
      breakfastburrito
      • 3 Years Ago
      Germany is THE most forward-thinking country right now, in terms of emissions and sustainability. They have adopted a clean-diesel standard that works. We can't have Banks kits spewing cancer at every stoplight, but diesel itself is not a bad technology for the near term.
        Craigs List
        • 3 Years Ago
        @breakfastburrito
        Just allow police to cite spewers on the spot - they'll shut the $hit off real quick in town...
      axiomatik
      • 3 Years Ago
      So, he is being paid by a lobbying group to write papers discouraging incentives for competing technologies? Surprise surprise. The fact of the matter is that diesel power is an established technology that already benefits from economies of scale and a century of optimization. Diesel technology doesnt need help. The whole point of incentives for new technologies is to allow them to get over that hurdle, which is a barrier of entry for any new technology. I for one would rather have more choices than less. He is basically lobbying for less consumer choice.
        LEDfoot
        • 3 Years Ago
        @axiomatik
        You're so wrong, he's asking government to not dictate what kind of technology will get incentives. We all know governments will always be completely inept at that task, and will always allow political motivations to shape the decisions instead of technical merit and feasibility. At what part in the article do you read that he is asking the government to _not_ provide incentives to "competing technologies"?
        dukeisduke
        • 3 Years Ago
        @axiomatik
        No, he's lobbying for a level playing field. The Obama administration, like all good fascist governments, is in the business of picking winners and losers. Like Solyndra, where a half billion taxpayer dollars were flushed down the toilet, despite all the red flags.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @dukeisduke
          [blocked]
          Denato Corcoroni
          • 3 Years Ago
          @dukeisduke
          Nick has a problem with the expression and acceptance of other positions and concepts. dukeisduke has a similar problem. What they also share in common is the name calling thing that now typifies political discourse. What I really find amusing is Nick's move to threats and violence. Chill, dude.
          IBx27
          • 3 Years Ago
          @dukeisduke
          Figures that the pacifist leftie is usually the first one to say far-right, right-wing, lemming, lunatic, hunt, punch, spit, spineless, and most of all, DOUBLE STANDARD.
          lasertekk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @dukeisduke
          I don't find the violence unusual. I'm seeing more and more of that talk every day. Make no mistake, politically, this country is retreating into two camps. I won't make any predictions to what that means down the line.
          tinted up
          • 3 Years Ago
          @dukeisduke
          Nick is just another cog in the fascist government machine. Why don't you join the occupy movement after you kick my ass, I am in Fairbanks Alaska if it helps you come find me... I'm waiting.
      Rick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sounds fair, but I don't see diesels being the panacea either. The long term goal is to be away from fossil fuels as much as possible. Electric and hybrid vehicles are but a means to providing propulsion and serve as a stepping stone to further technologies using some of the same sub systems. Diesel proponents may disagree but I feel that fuel is just a stop gap, short term aid. Is that perhaps why the government hypes electrics and hybrids? Maybe they're just looking further down the road? I'd like to think so.
        LEDfoot
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Rick
        Unfortunately the government isn't doing any such thing. Just look at the miserable failure of the governments subsidies and mandates of ethanol "biofuel". Governments will always base it's decision on politics rather than merit and will thus 99% of the time make the wrong decision. Not to mention the fact that even if they tried to base a decision on merit they are wholly unqualified to do so.
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