Who cares about diesel pollution?
Dozens of Oregonians turned out to testify on the dirty diesel bill (HB 2007) in March. The crowd prompted lawmakers to extend the public hearing over two days. The bill’s sponsors and other champions made it clear: old engines pose a big health threat, and it’s time to get serious about replacing them with far cleaner solutions.
Legislators also heard from people arguing against a deadline to retire old, dirty engines.
The health, justice and environmental arguments for cutting diesel pollution are impossible to ignore—but will legislators agree that health is top priority? Only if we keep reminding them.
Highlights from the hearing
Schools and pollution don’t mix:
Sen. Lew Frederick: Asthma is one of the top two health concerns that keeps kids from attending school in his district.
Rep. Karin Power: When schools like Harriet Tubman have to install expensive air systems because the nearby traffic pollution is so bad, things need to change.
Early diesel exposure can alter a life’s path:
Pediatrician Dr. Lewis: Diesel may trigger asthma right away, but other health effects might show up over time. When children are exposed early in life, for example, cancer has a long time to develop.
Questions from legislators:
Is diesel pollution just a Portland issue? No. Diesel raises health risk in 19 counties across the state.
Is diesel a worker’s issue? Yes. Truck drivers, dock workers and others who work around engines have higher incidences of disease associated with diesel pollution.
Will this bill mean people have to give up their pickup trucks? No. The bill is written in a way to ensure that it is focused on medium and heavy-duty work trucks, and not the kinds of pickups that contractors, lawn care workers or hobbyists might drive.
This bill is a long time coming: Even some people who testified for changes in the bill mentioned that this proposal is a long time coming, and the years of work groups and discussions have made it stronger. Now, it is time to take action and put those well-considered solutions into place.
You can help! If you haven’t already, take a moment to let your legislator know that you want to see strong, well-designed actions put in place to reduce diesel pollution.