Oregon House Votes to Curb Diesel Pollution

Old dirty diesel engines may soon be on their way out

SALEM — Diesel exhaust from heavy-duty engines is one of Oregon’s biggest air toxic problems and can be solved by replacing old polluting engines with newer diesel engines or with trucks and equipment that run on cleaner fuels like electricity. In a 44 to 15 vote in favor of HB 2007, the Oregon House has chosen to accelerate this critical transition.

“We have known about diesel’s pernicious impacts on human health for decades,” said Morgan Gratz-Weiser, Legislative Director of Oregon Environmental Council. “Today’s landmark vote signals that the Oregon House cares about Oregonians’ hearts, lungs and brains, all of which are harmed when diesel engines are allowed to pollute our communities.”

The vast majority of Oregonians are breathing diesel exhaust at unsafe levels, with 19 counties across Oregon exceeding the state’s health benchmark. Diesel pollution contributes to cancer risk, as well as heart disease and heart attacks, asthma attacks, reduced lung growth in children, birth anomalies and autism, male infertility and more. Children are most vulnerable and so are people who work with diesel and who live by highly trafficked roads. 

HB 2007 will start diesel clean-up in the tri-county area (Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties) by requiring:

  • Engine standards for diesel-powered trucks: By 2023 all medium-duty (e.g., delivery vans, garbage trucks) and heavy-duty trucks (e.g., big rigs) will be required to run on a 1997 or newer engine; and by 2029 medium-duty trucks will need to run on a 2010 or newer diesel engines, as well as publicly owned heavy-duty trucks. Trucks can also comply by switching to cleaner fuels or trapping pollution with special filters. 
  • Phase-out of resale of old diesel engines: After 2025, medium-duty truck owners will not be able to purchase diesel engines older than 2010, and heavy-duty truck owners will not be able to purchase diesel engines older than 2007.
  • Clean construction: State-funded construction projects costing $20 million or more in the tri-county area will require 80% clean equipment, and construction equipment owners will be encouraged to display a sticker that shows the emissions profile of the engine.
  • VW settlement funds: Approximately $53 million will assist the trucks and equipment subject to clean-up, prioritizing applications that support cleaner fuels, and grant applicants running minority-owned, women-owned, service-disabled veteran owned businesses, disadvantaged business enterprises, or emerging small businesses.
  • Future success: A task force will develop new funding strategies to support businesses across the entire state in upgrading their fleets.

“HB 2007 and previous diesel clean-up bills have gained broad support from doctors and nurses, public health and environment advocates, faith leaders, and groups representing vulnerable communities across the state,” said Chris Hagerbaumer, Deputy Director of Oregon Environmental Council. “When this legislation passes the Senate and is signed by the Governor it will launch protections for 44% of the state’s residents.”

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