PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A group of 20 clean air organizations petitioned Oregon policymakers to establish a cap on toxic diesel emissions from non-road sources such as construction sites, distribution centers and rail yards.
Neighbors For Clean Air spotlighted downtown Portland construction as health concerns. Mary Peveto, the executive director of the organization, said that even though Oregon has made strides to reduce pollution on our roads, Portland’s diesel pollution is particularly high.
“We realized 65% of diesel emissions are still coming from sources that are still unregulated and weren’t addressed by the new law that passed this year,” she said.
These groups along with Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Commission Chair Deborah Kafoury agree diesel presents a serious threat to public health. In the last decade, the World Health Organization recognized diesel as a carcinogen.
Peveto said the “really fine particles” of diesel get inhaled and have been associated with neuro-developmental disorders in children.
Melissa Powers, the director of Green Energy Institute at Lewis & Clark Law School, helped co-author the petition. She said they want Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission to take on health-based regulations.
Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality released the following statement in response to the petition:
“We understand the concerns the petition seeks to address, and have been looking at these concepts as potential tools for future efforts to reduce a variety of emissions,” said Richard Whitman, DEQ director. “Diesel emissions, whether on the roads or at construction projects, remain a top source of concern for DEQ and Oregonians.”
The DEQ also stated they are in the process of conducting a comprehensive statewide inventory of all non-road diesel engine emissions (construction, agriculture, marine, etc.). They expect to have results in the first quarter of 2020.
Along with Neighbors for Clean Air, these organizations are co-petitioners:
- Audubon Society of Portland
- Beyond Toxics
- The Center for Biological Diversity
- The Center for a Sustainable Economy
- Climate Solutions
- Columbia RiverKeeper
- Environment Oregon
- Forest Park Conservancy
- Friends of Mount Hood
- Green Energy Institute at Lewis & Clark Law School
- Green Lents
- Neighbors for Clean Air
- Northwest Environmental Defense Center
- OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
- Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club
- Oregon Environmental Council
- Oregon League of Conservation Voters
- Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
- Tualatin RiverKeepers