AQ Programs

Oregon's Clean Diesel Initiative and other efforts to promote clean diesel have translated into quantifiable benefits for Oregon businesses. Improving the environment and the economy is possible.

Diesel engines can last a long time. Older engines are less efficient, cost more to operate and pollute more than newer engines. They use more fuel and require more maintenance. However, the upfront cost for engine replacement is a financial road block for Oregon businesses.

That's where the Clean Diesel Initiative can help clear the air and improve Oregon's economy. By providing funds to local businesses in the form of matched dollars, grants and low-interest loans to initiate retrofits or diesel engine replacements, Oregon is reaping the benefits of cleaner air and a stronger economy.

Clean Diesel project collaborators
The diesel engine powers the American economy, moving about 94 percent of the country’s freight. But we also know that diesel exhaust poses a serious health risk to many Oregonians - especially to minority and low-income communities.

However, the advent of cleaner technology, fostered by the adoption of strict emission standards for new engines, led to the development of remarkably low-emitting diesels that rival natural gas as the long-time hallmark of low emission engines. Clean diesel now means cleaner air. The remaining challenge is the durability of existing diesel engines. These engines have a long natural life and low turnover rate, which effectively postpones the time when we can truly call all diesels “clean”.

What is DEQ doing about it? For the past decade, DEQ engaged fleet partners to help them transition to low-emission technology by providing technical assistance and applying for grants.

On April 15, 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, awarded a $1.5 million Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant to DEQ. Thanks to this EPA grant, DEQ is able to launch a project to replace 23 trucks in six fleets and install highly advanced pollution controls on cargo-handling equipment at Northwest Container Services in Portland. This project will deliver clean air effectively and at a low cost, especially when you consider the savings in public health and welfare. We expect the annual cost of the project to be about $296,000. We also expect it to deliver about $1.2 million in health and welfare benefits each year, a return on taxpayer investment of over 400 percent.

This West Coast Collaborative project would not be possible without the commitment of our project partners, the Oregon Trucking Associations and the Port of Portland, to help promote the outcomes of the project to other fleets, shippers and carriers in the region. Our project collaborators include Carson Oil, Imperial Trucking, Independent Dispatch, Ken Johnson Trucking, Northwest Container Services, Pounder Oil and West Linn Paper Company. Their vision and willingness to work towards a sustainable freight system are to be commended.

For the most part, businesses that own and operate diesel engines take the lead to take the steps to reduce engines air pollution impacts. Citizens play a role too. DEQ is particularly grateful to Portland residents Christine White and Robert McCullough, who were willing to take their concerns about air pollution in their neighborhoods and actively help recruit some of the very truck fleets that are part of this project today. Everyday, DEQ works toward making the environment a healthy and sustaining part of Oregonians’ lives. Christine White and Robert McCullough bring new meaning to why we do what we do.

Let’s celebrate another step towards cleaner diesel and cleaner air.

Jewell School District received a state allocation grant to replace one older diesel vehicle with a new, low emissions diesel buses. Reductions in emissions per year for this project are estimated to be 0.111 short tons for NOx and 0.01 short tons for PM 2.5.
Beaverton School District received a state allocation grant to replace two older diesel vehicles with new, low emissions diesel buses. Reductions in emissions per year for this project are estimated to be 0.232 short tons for NOx and 0.017 short tons for PM 2.5.
Bethel School District received a state allocation grant to replace four older diesel vehicles with new, low emissions diesel buses. Reductions in emissions per year for this project are estimated to be 0.022 short tons for NOx and 0.002 short tons for PM 2.5.
School Districts currently under grant agreement include Ashland, Ontario, Ukiah, Echo, Redmond, South Lane, and Springfield.

Creswell and Culver School Districts to get new diesel busesThe Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is using the 2014 federal Diesel Emission Reduction Act allocation to the state to buy new low emission school buses for the Culver and Creswell school districts. With this funding, four older diesel buses will get scrapped and replaced with low emission propane and diesel powered school buses.

“We know that the school bus is the safest way to get kids to school. Now we are helping these school districts making them the most sustainable and healthy way to get to school,” says DEQ Clean Diesel Program Coordinator Kevin Downing.

Previously, two other Oregon school districts, Springfield and Reynolds, were selected among 500 districts nationwide for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's school bus rebate program. The Culver and Creswell school districts had participated in a similar EPA rebate program in 2012 but were not selected.

“We decided to use this year’s allocation to Oregon under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act to move down the list of school districts that were not selected in 2012,” said Downing. There were 11 other Oregon school districts participating in 2012 and now 10 in 2014 that were not selected. The Oregon grant will cover 25 percent of the replacement cost for new buses. Creswell is planning to replace three buses, model years 1993, 2000 and 2002. Culver is planning to replace one 1993 bus.

Diesel engines are durable and efficient but emit levels of fine particulate matter that have been shown to contribute to a variety of health effects including asthma, heart disease and increased risk for cancer. Buses built after the 2008 model year are now required to have high efficiency pollution controls that reduce these harmful pollutants by over 90 percent. These programs are intended to facilitate turnover to less polluting buses.

​McCracken Motor Freight is a family owned business that has been transporting freight in Oregon since 1929. In addition to their commitment to providing excellent customer service they are also an EPA SmartWay Transport Partner. The EPA SmartWay program serves to reduce transportation related emissions by creating and reinforcing business relationships between shippers and carriers.

Recently McCracken received a grant from EPA via DEQ to replace two trucks that were used in so-called drayage service. Dray trucks look just the same as every other heavy duty tractor-trailer except that instead of travelling long distances with overnight stops, they carry cargo containers and trailers between intermodal port terminals and railyards to and from warehouses and distribution centers. These trucks tend to make many short trips every day and unlike over-the-road trucks make most of their trips in urbanized areas where their emissions can affect thousands of people. Scrapping the old trucks and replacing them with new, low emission trucks saves 0.02 tons of harmful diesel particulate every year.

Federal program reduces harmful emissions in Oregon
ARRAThe American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act, provided $1.73 million in state clean diesel funding for Oregon. The goal of this funding is to reduce harmful emissions from diesel engines and create or sustain jobs in this industrial sector. All in all, the project touched 156 engines, either by installing diesel particle filters, oxidation catalysts and/or idle reduction engine heaters. Along with Tri-Met, Oregon’s largest mass transit provider, public fleets in Lake Oswego, Milwaukie and Lane County and in the Beaverton, Klamath County, Bend-La Pine and Salem-Keizer school districts received funding to retrofit vehicles and equipment with advanced emission controls. In addition, four engines were replaced with low-emitting, fuel efficient diesel engines on two pilot launch boats that operate on the lower Columbia River ferrying river pilots and customs officials to and from ocean going ships.

What is the benefit to Oregonians?
Health and environmental Benefits. The projects reduced Oregonians’ exposure to diesel particulate matter, decreasing health impacts from diesel exhaust. The project touched 156 engines, eliminating 2.25 tons of diesel particulate per year with a resulting public health and environmental benefit estimated at $1.1 million annually. These benefits will continue to accrue over at least the next five years if not longer. Fuel savings and job creation. In addition to saving over 17,000 gallons of fuel every year from idle controls and more efficient engines, these projects supported jobs in Astoria, Bend, Klamath Falls, Portland and Salem.
Northwest Container Services: Big emission reductions at a very low cost

DEQ is using funds from EPA to reduce emissions from cargo handling equipment in north Portland. NW Container Services Inc. provides containerized transportation services for intermodal freight service. The company operates from several locations in the northwest including Seattle, Tacoma, Pasco and Boardman. This project will focus on cargo handling equipment operating from their St. Johns facility.

At least six reach stackers will be retrofitted with active diesel particulate filters. These are powered by 335 horsepower diesel engines and range in age from model years 2000 to 2010. Active particulate filters represent the most aggressive emission control technology available for this application.

​Reductions PM2.5 CO​ HC​ ​BC (metric tons CO2e)
Annual (tons/year)​ ​.17 ​.93 ​.29 ​24.6
​Lifetime (tons) ​3.44 ​19.08 ​5.74 ​497.8
​Total Cost Effectiveness ($/ton) ​$32,549 ​$5,867 ​$19,502 ​$266

Current estimates of the public health and environmental impact of exposure to diesel particulate in Multnomah County exceed $1M per ton. At a cost of less than $33,000 per ton of particulate reduced, this project delivers environmental benefits very efficiently.

​Tidewater Barge Lines and Shaver Transportation: Leading the way towards a greener freight corridor

The Columbia River has served as a transportation corridor for over 10,000 years. Initially movement of freight was human powered, but today millions of tons of freight are moved every year by barge on the Columbia and Snake rivers contributing to making this the third largest grain export gateway in the world. The diesel engines that make this economically possible are powerful, durable and reliable but also emit significant amounts of pollution with numerous impacts on public health and the environment.

Two regional shipping companies, Shaver Transportation and Tidewater Barge Lines are significant participants in the effort to reduce emissions along the Columbia and in the scenic Columbia River Gorge. In the past few years they've collectively repowered nine boats, each achieving up to a 70 percent reduction in haze-forming nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

These efforts started in 2008 when then Governor Ted Kulongoski of Oregon and Washington's Governor Christine Gregoire convened a bi-state solutions group to focus on lowering emission from freight movement along the Columbia River. This effort continues today under the sponsorship of the Port of Portland and Port of Vancouver.
Bernert Barge Lines Kathryn B: A flagship for a sustainable shipping corridor

Bernert Barge Lines is a family owned business based in Portland that has been operating on the Columbia River for more than 100 years. In 2009, Oregon DEQ earned a federal grant to repower the engines on Bernert's Kathryn B, a towboat responsible for transporting barges loaded with freight up and down the third largest grain export route in the world.

The new engines on the Kathryn B will remove 2.4 tons of particulate matter and 24.3 tons of nitrogen oxides, a precursor to smog and haze, from the air each year. Haze is an issue of concern since towboats travel extensively through the Columbia Gorge, the country's first national scenic area.

The bottom line and making ends meet in a tough economy is also an issue of concern. The new engines will save 32,625 gallons of fuel each year and require less time and money to maintain and operate.

With the fuel savings, the upgraded engines also eliminate 329 metric tons of carbon dioxide and 1,210 metric tons equivalent of black carbon, which is considered the second largest human contributor to climate change each year.

With the engine replacement project complete the Kathryn B has become a flagship for the effective use of public funds to promote public health, strengthen Oregon's economy and lower fuel consumption.
Anchorage Launch Services: Thirty years of innovation

Anchorage Launch Services is a woman-owned, small business founded almost 30 years ago and has carved a market by defying conventional wisdom. Traditionally, tug boats, expensive to operate and in high demand, would transport river pilots and customs officials to and from arriving ships. Anchorage now provides transport services, carrying crews and supplies in lighter, faster boats that use less fuel.

In 2009, Oregon DEQ earned a federal grant to replace the old diesel engines in four launch boats with new engines that meet EPA's highest standard for emissions from diesel engines.

Now, with four new "repowered" launch boats, Anchorage is poised to reap the benefits of lower operational costs and significant fuel savings while eliminating 2.2 tons of particulate matter and 24.9 tons of nitrogen oxides, a precursor to smog and haze, from the air each year. In addition, fuel savings of 10,492 gallons per year from the upgraded engines will annually eliminate 109 metric tons of carbon dioxide and 126 metric tons equivalent of black carbon, which is considered the second largest human contributor to climate change.
Port of Portland's channel dredger "repowered"

Oregon DEQ secured a competitive award from EPA in 2010 to replace the engines on the Port of Portland's dredge, the Oregon originally built as a Mississippi River towboat. Two 1400 HP diesel engines have been operating on the vessel since 1949 and served as the propulsion power when the vessel was used as a towboat. Today, these engines are used as power generators to provide onboard electricity as well as power for the electrical engine that runs the auger – the piece of machinery that does the actual dredging.

After the two engines are replaced, the Port will also replace the 5000 HP engine that powers the suction pumps that moved almost 3 million cubic yards of material from the main shipping channel last year.

Upgrading the engines to engines that meet the "Tier 3" emission standard – EPA's highest standard for diesel emissions- will reduce a variety of air pollutants by over 50 percent, including diesel particulate, a known health risk, as well as black carbon.

Advances in engine design and manufacture also mean that the Port will see, from these first two new engines alone, a savings in fuel consumption of 104,000 gallons per year. These fuel savings not only lower the bottom line they cut emissions: Three quarters of a ton of diesel particulate and 2,612 metric tons of carbon dioxide and black carbon equivalent per year.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, burn less fuel

Diesel engines are unparalleled for their efficiency, reliability, power and durability. However, diesel engines emit large amounts of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter and toxic air pollutants.

Most locomotives idle continuously, even when not in use. Nationally, this amounts to an enormous amount of fuel and pollution each year: over 1.1 billion gallons of fuel and 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide—a major global warming contributor. DEQ collaborated with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, installing four anti idling devices on switch locomotives, saving approximately 15,000 gallons of fuel/year/locomotive, with a significant reduction in emissions.