Tell your legislators to pass stricter diesel regulations.

As our neighbors on the West Coast push for stronger emission reductions, Oregon is becoming the dumping ground of older diesel engines. We need to restrict the use of older diesel engines, and to quit relying on voluntary action. New diesel engines emit 99 percent less soot than engines manufactured a decade ago. Tell the legislature that we need healthy diesel standards.

468 Deaths and $4,000,000,000 Annually
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that diesel exhaust in Oregon causes some 468 premature deaths a year – which means more Oregonians die from diesel exhaust than from murder and drunken driving combined. This is not only tragic and preventable, but incredibly expensive: DEQ estimatesup to four billion dollars lost every year to premature death, disease, and lost work days.

Leading Health AND Climate Change Risk
According to a 2013 study by Multnomah County Health Department, diesel emissions are the leading source of the 15 cancer-causing substances the DEQ has identified as exceeding the “acceptable” risk level in the Portland Metro airshed–in other words, the worst of the worst. In addition to that, the black soot associated with diesel exhaust is a chief contributor to climate change.

Carcinogenic, Especially Dangerous to Children
Diesel is particularly problematic because its ultra-fine particles can travel deep into the lungs and can even pass from the lungs into the bloodstream. Long-term exposure to diesel emissions is linked to both lung and bladder cancer.  Children are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of diesel pollution because their lungs are still developing and they breathe, on average, 50 percent more air per pound of body weight than do adults.

It’s Time to Fix This.
It is disgraceful that Oregon has the least protective diesel standards on the west coast. Oregon should be pursuing legislation to catch up to our cleaner neighbors. Why we’re in this unfortunate position is a political, not a technological, problem. One easy step is to adopt California’s more health-protective diesel emission programs for both on-road and off-road engines, as we were green-lighted to do when EPA approved the California programs.

This session, state lawmakers need to address the dumping of older equipment from California where stricter rules are phasing in, making Oregon’s problem even worse for decades to come. As a recent Portland Tribune article notes: “Older diesel trucks and off-road construction and other commercial rigs spew microscopic particles that lodge in peoples’ lungs, causing cancer, heart attacks and other health maladies. Federal data crunched by the Clean Air Task Force in Boston shows that Multnomah County has the fourth-highest level of diesel soot of all U.S. counties – more than in Los Angeles County. Oregon has the sixth-highest level among the states, leading to hundreds of premature deaths here every year because of diesel.” Tell your legislators to change diesel regulations.

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