A legislatively-driven workgroup, led by Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), met again on Wednesday October 19 at Metro Headquarters in Portland. The workgroup is charged with looking for options to help reduce the air quality impact from diesel engines, particularly in congested urban areas, and was created after Sen. Dembrow’s SB 824 failed to advance during the 2015 Oregon legislative session. That bill proposed to apply California’s on-road and off-road diesel engine rules to Oregon, along with several other measures including registration fees for off-road equipment, contracting set-asides for diesel engine retrofits, and lifting of the preemption on local truck idling regulations. Though broadly supportive of cleaner air, AOC remains concerned about the financial cost several of these mandates would place on public works departments already struggling to remain viable under the strain of reduced federal forest payments and diminished gas tax revenue.
These options and others are still being considered by Sen. Dembrow as the 2017 session draws ever closer. An additional component to this issue is the recent Volkswagen settlement which will bring over $68 million to Oregon to be used on reducing diesel emissions. Discussions are underway on the most effective use of the settlement money, with considerable emphasis being placed on school bus fleets and transit, along with government fleets. AOC staff will remain heavily engaged in this workgroup as it begins to move toward its conclusion.
October 21, 2016