Media Room


Good morning. Thank you for joining us today for an important announcement regarding the future of air quality in Oregon. 
I am joined today by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and DOJ attorneys Paul Garrahan and Althea Cullen; and Richard Whitman, my senior policy advisor for natural resources. 

It is very important to me that communities in every corner of the state are healthy, vibrant places where all Oregonians can thrive. 
Clean air and water are an important part of that. That’s why I created Cleaner Air Oregon, to make sure state regulators have the tools they need to address toxic industrial emissions that threaten the well-being of workers and neighbors. 
Today, thanks to good work by the Oregon Department of Justice, we will have additional resources to tackle another major threat to clean air: vehicle emissions.

I will turn it over to Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to share some of the details. 

While much of the attention today is rightly focused on compensating car owners harmed by VW’s actions, this agreement also contains important elements that redress the harm caused to our environment. 

It establishes an Environmental Mitigation Fund that includes more than $68 million dollars for Oregon to use to reduce vehicle emissions. 
Oregon is also eligible to seek additional funds from a separate, fund dedicated to helping Oregonians buy zero-emissions cars.

As Governor, I will make sure we take full advantage of this opportunity to reduce public health problems created by vehicle emissions.  

For many communities, the number one air quality threat is diesel emissions from older vehicles.  Oregon’s plan will address the hazards of diesel emissions as well as other vehicle pollutants. 

The resources realized under today’s agreement greatly expand our ability to improve public health throughout Oregon. 

According to estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency, as many as 400 Oregonians get sick and die each year from respiratory and cardiac disease caused by exposure to diesel exhaust. 
In addition to heart attacks and asthma, exposure is linked to lung and bladder cancer. 
Estimates of Oregon’s health care and other costs for treating these illnesses are $1.6 to $3 billion a year.
Worse yet, the health impacts of vehicle emissions will hit low-income families, communities of color, indigenous communities, and rural areas the hardest, amplifying existing disparities. 
For example, in Multnomah County, African-Americans have the highest prevalence of asthma, lung cancer and heart disease. 
Statewide, both asthma and heart disease are more prevalent among low-income households.

Currently, diesel engines are used primarily for construction and to transport goods and people.
New, cleaner engines are available, and they lower emissions by 95 percent or more. 
ODOT registration data for heavy duty trucks shows that two-thirds of commercial trucks that travel through Oregon are “clean,” meaning they have a 2008 model year or newer. 
However, the turnover to new, cleaner engines has been slow: only one-third of Oregon’s commercial trucks that operate solely in-state state are “clean.” 

I plan to focus additional resources to expedite the transition to clean diesel engines, with the goal of cleaner, healthy air for all Oregonians.
There is another important benefit of today’s agreement: By reducing greenhouse gas emissions from trucks, buses and construction equipment, we can also make a significant dent in Oregon’s contributions to global climate change. 

I am very grateful for the good work of the Attorney General and the Oregon Department of Justice. We should be so proud of them. Oregon was one of six leadership states who greatly influenced the establishment of this trust. 
I am committed to putting the settlement funds to work immediately to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations of Oregonians.  

Thank you.