Oregon’s California-style emissions bill moves forward

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 6/26/2009

The Oregon Legislature took another step toward implementing California-style idling and retrofit rules for commercial big rigs this week.

On Wednesday, June 24, the Oregon Senate voted 16-14 to approve its version of the bill, which addresses greenhouse gas emissions. On Thursday, June 25, the House voted 35-25 to sign off on the changes. It now moves to Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who pursued the legislation.

The bill – HB2186 – directs the state’s Department of Environmental Quality to study medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks before reporting back to lawmakers by October 2010. Regulators would examine potential “maintenance and retrofitting” of medium- and heavy-duty trucks to reduce aerodynamic drag and “otherwise reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The bill is likely to have several sweeping effects on truckers in Oregon. But more than that, it has the potential to impact out-of-state truckers, which OOIDA leadership pointed out in early June. For the past three weeks, OOIDA has asked its membership to contact Oregon and discuss the drastic influence the proposed bill would have on U.S. truckers driving in that state.

Todd Spencer, OOIDA Executive Vice President, said in early June that Oregon’s timing given the economy couldn’t be worse.

“This proposed law is overkill that will exert a crippling effect on small businesses,” Spencer told Land Line.

The bill also directs environmental regulators to look at restrictions on engine use by parked commercial vehicles, hinting at idling restrictions.

The state Department of Environmental Quality also would be directed to look at the feasibility of providing economic-hardship exemptions and deferrals for truck owners who wouldn’t attain a return on investment from the drag-reducing retrofit equipment options.

The bill leaves open the possibility of adopting a low carbon fuel standard for gasoline, diesel and “fuels used as substitutes for gasoline or diesel.” Trucks used for logging and agriculture would be exempt from the low carbon fuel standard.

State Democrats applauded the bill’s passage.

“This bill strikes a balance between the need to address our carbon output while not putting an unfair burden on Oregon business,” Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Welches, chair of the Senate Business and Transportation Committee, said in a statement issued Thursday. “Many hours of deliberation went into this bill, and in the end we’ve created a product that is forward thinking and sensitive to these challenging economic times.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer


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