Oregon governor signs emissions bill into law

| 7/27/2009

Oregon has officially approved global warming legislation that may eventually require stringent emissions retrofits for commercial trucks.

Last week, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed House Bill 2186 into law. HB2186 addresses climate change by requiring the state to implement a low-carbon fuel standard and to study several possible commercial truck requirements.

The Oregon House of Representatives approved the bill 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 lawmakers 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 the 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 that, 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, told Land Line in early July that 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.

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

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer