Oregon: California-style law delayed for now

| 7/7/2009

Oregon moved closer to implementing California-style idling and retrofit rules in mid-June. Immediate plans for such rules have been put off, but eventually, the bill is likely to have several sweeping effects on truckers in Oregon.

The Oregon House of Representatives approved House Bill 2186 on June 25, just one day after the state Senate narrowly approved the measure 16-14.

During the debate over the bill, OOIDA asked its membership to contact Oregon and discuss the drastic influence the proposed bill would have on U.S. truckers driving in that state and what impact it might have on out-of-state truckers.

OOIDA Executive Vice-President Todd Spencer described bill as it was first proposed as “overkill” and said the “timing couldn’t have been worse.”

The final version of the bill directs the state’s Department of Environmental Quality to study medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks before reporting back to the legislature 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 also directs environmental regulators to look at restrictions on engine use by parked commercial vehicles, hinting at idling restrictions. The bill also sets in motion a plan to require a low-carbon fuel standard for fuel and diesel in the state.

One trucking lobbyist says due to several late changes in the bill, it’s not as bad as it could have been. Bob Russell, president of Oregon Trucking Associations, said both idling and retrofits would have to be approved by the next legislature. Previous versions of the bill would have mandated idling and retrofit rules to be implemented sooner.

“It is a very broad delegation of authority to the DEQ,” Russell told Land Line. “They’re starting down that path.”

The bill, however, will have no immediate cost for trucking, Russell said, which he termed “a pretty significant victory.”

“There was a great deal of concern about this bill,” Russell said. “I had several legislators tell me they were concerned about it. They would refer to it as a bad bill, but because of politics they had to vote for it. There was a lot of pressure from environmental groups and, quite frankly, a huge amount of pressure from the governor.”

Oregon also will study what Washington and other left-coast states are doing with regard to the low-carbon fuel standard, Russell said.

Oregon’s legislature meets biannually, and won’t hold another legislative session until 2011, when Russell said idling and retrofits may well be taken up again.

“With so many states doing idling restrictions, it’s getting harder and harder to hold them off,” Russell said.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer