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Reducing Diesel Emissions: Green Energy Institute

May 01, 2018

Professor Melissa Powers and staff attorney Amelia Schlusser of the Lewis & Clark Law School Green Energy Institute (GEI)  presented strategies to reduce diesel emissions (particularly from older diesel engines) at Deconstructing Diesel, an event in Portland held in March 2018.

More than 100 attendees from government agencies, local advocacy groups, and concerned citizens attended  the event to learn more about the harmful effects of diesel emissions in the Portland metropolitan area and discuss strategies to reduce diesel emissions in Oregon. The event was hosted by the BREATHE Oregon collaborative including Neighbors for Clean Air, Portland State University, and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center.

Powers and Schlusser briefed the audience on Clean Air Act preemption and ways that state and local government can act to reduce diesel pollution today, without further Oregon legislative action.

Schlusser explained how regulation in California is resulting in older, dirtier diesel sources moving into Oregon, and how various strategies, including clean fleet requirements, time-of-use regulations, and restrictions for non-road sources, could all contribute to cleaner air.

“We should be willing to protect our own public health and stop those [dirty] engines from entering our state,” said Melissa Powers.

Prior to the GEI presentation, Dr. Linda George, Professor of Environmental Sciences and Management at Portland State, detailed the possibly unique toxicity of diesel particulate matter, and the way it can remain in and cause damage to the human body. She also explained how her direct research regarding localized and time-variable diesel concentrations links diesel emissions from construction sites and supports DEQ’s 2017 research demonstrating that Portland suffers from exposure to elevated diesel pollution.

Former State Senator Jackie Dingfelder facilitated a panel of elected officials including Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Metro Councilor Sam Chase, State Senator Michael Dembrow, and State Representative Rob Nosse, who discussed previous and continued attempts at diesel regulation, the political and funding challenges, and the need for continued pressure on our government bodies to act Multnomah County issued a full report here.

The Green Energy Institute develops comprehensive, effective strategies to further the transition to a 100% renewable energy grid. It is part of Lewis and Clark Law School’s Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law Program and provides analyses and recommendations to hasten the energy transition by strengthening existing policies, eliminating barriers, and promoting innovative and ambitious new strategies to support renewable energy deployment across the region.

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