Oregon Legislature OKs bill to clean up diesel engines

| 7/6/2007

The Oregon Legislature approved a bill intended to clean up old diesel engines in the state. It now moves to Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s office.

Trucks, buses, construction equipment and farm vehicles would get help from the state to replace and retrofit pre-2007 diesel engines and reduce idling. The bill – HB2172 – would provide state grants, loans and tax breaks to update engines so they emit less pollution.

Statewide, the annual cost in health care, lost work days, reduced visibility and other indirect costs associated with diesel fumes is $2 billion, The Associated Press reported.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires 2007 and newer model year trucks to have much lower emissions. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality estimates that cleaner burning engines would reduce diesel emissions in the state by 85 percent and lower the risk of cancer from those emissions from 23 cases to 1 case per million by 2017.

Supporters of the bill say cleaner engines are needed because diesel particulate matter exceeds health benchmarks in 25 of Oregon’s 36 counties.

“There are a lot of these older diesel engines, and a lot of newer ones do not have the emissions,” Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, told the Statesman Journal.

Clem said the question that must be answered is, how do you get people to get rid of their old engines and get new ones?

He said one option is a tax credit, and the other option is to keep waiting until the old engines die. Clem indicated the latter would not be a good option if the goal is improved health.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor