Many of our communities live in close proximity to high traffic corridors and suffer from heightened health risks due to toxic air quality, in particular diesel exhaust. Diesel pollution has grave health consequences for Oregonians, especially for communities of color, low income communities, children and the elderly. Diesel increases the risk of cancer; damages lungs, cardiovascular systems and brain function; causes heart attacks; leads to infertility, low birth weight and premature death. In addition to disproportionate exposure, our communities often have limited ability to afford increased medical bills or move away from a toxic environment.
We know that the biggest risk faced by Oregonians from air pollution comes from the reliance in our state on older Diesel engine technology and the lack of regulations or other aggressive work to phase them out.
A recent Multnomah County report lays out the cost Oregonians pay every year we don’t eliminate the deadly pollution from older diesel engines:
- Multnomah County ranks highest in total and exposure concentrations across Oregon and the Tri-County region is in the 95th percentile nationally.
- Over 400 premature deaths
- Over 140 non-fatal heart attacks
- Over 25,000 work loss days
- Cost to Oregon: over $3 billion annually
The Oregon Just Transition Alliance alongside ally organizations is pushing for strong diesel legislation that effectively and quickly curtails this state of emergency. HB 2007, “The Diesel Bill” includes the following elements:
- PHASE OUT OLD ON-ROAD ENGINES: Directs the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) to adopt diesel engine emission standards for medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks and buses. All truck and bus engines registered in Oregon will be required to have a 2010 model year or newer engine. The rules the EQC adopts will create a phase-in schedule and allow for compliance options, such as engine retrofits, flexibility for small fleets, and a fleet averaging option.
- STOP THE ADDITION OF OLD TRUCKS TO FLEETS: The bill directs the EQC to adopt a date by which no fleet can purchase a truck that runs an old diesel engine.
- ENFORCEMENT: All trucks in the state (including those driving through) will be required to provide evidence that their truck meets federal emissions standards applicable to the model year of that heavy-duty engine. The EQC will develop a program for inspecting trucks.
- CLEAN DIESEL DURING CONSTRUCTION: For any public improvement project funded by state bonds of $20 million or more, at least 80% of the vehicles and equipment used on the construction site must be powered by clean diesel engines. In developing the rules for these contract specification, the EQC must consider how to assist disadvantaged business enterprises, minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, and businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.
- VW SETTLEMENT FUNDS: The remaining VW Settlement Funds will be made eligible to replace diesel engines that are 2009 or older, both on-road (e.g., trucks) and non-road (e.g., construction equipment). Preference will be given to projects that benefit sensitive populations or areas with elevated levels of diesel particulate matter; have support from the community; are carried out by disadvantaged business enterprises; involve small fleets; utilize clean fuels; maximize cost effectiveness of emissions reductions; and do not reward clean up that would otherwise occur without supplemental funding.
- ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR DIESEL CLEAN-UP: The bill appoints a task force to find public funding to support businesses in cleaning up diesel. The “Supporting Businesses in Reducing Diesel Emissions Task Force” will make its recommendations by September 15, 2020.
- IDLING: The bill will allow local governments to adopt anti-idling regulations for commercial vehicles, repealing the current state preemption.
While the bill addresses the above key points, HB 2007 must be strengthened in the following ways to be a key step forward to cleaner air:
- matching the deadline as California’s truck and bus rule, which requires 2010 model year engines or equivalent by 2023. We cannot wait until 2029.
- Closing the loophole on zombie (“glider”) trucks: we want to ensure all vehicles of the same model year are held to the same standard–even if old engines are put into new truck bodies.
- incorporating a sticker registration program for all engines, requiring vehicle operators to visibly display both the year of cab manufacture and the year of engine manufacture on the side of each cab.
- ensuring the phase-in schedule prioritizes implementation in the areas of greatest concern (where the most sensitive populations live, where there is the greatest pollution, and where the most people are exposed);
- ensuring the compliance mechanisms do not result in fewer emission reductions in the areas of greatest concern;
- HB 2007 is tentatively scheduled for a hearing in the House Energy & Environment Committee Tuesday, March 19th 1pm – show up in Salem, or submit testimony on line when the agenda is posted. ***Please wear white***
- Here is a link with information about how to submit testimony via email before 11am on Monday, March 19th.
- Thursday, March 21 Some members are joining the Clean Air/Environment Lobby Day working with OCN and others. For more info on how you can join this contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Are you active in a professional organization? Neighborhood Association? Church group? Consider an endorsement of the Diesel Bill Oregon desperately needs by putting your organization’s name on Oregon Just Transition Alliance Air Quality Coalition Clean Diesel Support Form
Endorsing Organizations as of 3/13/2019
Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon
Latinos Unidos Siempre
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Eugene/Springfield Branch
Neighbors for Clean Air
OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noreoeste
AFSCME Local 75
Green Energy Institute
Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods
Professional Development Business Group
Portland Neighbors for Diesel Action
Sierra Club Oregon Chapter