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
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.