North Portland is the hub of distribution for the state and, therefore, has the highest levels of diesel emissions in the state (estimated at approximately twenty times the health standard). Community groups, regulators and private and public fleets (operating in or near North Portland) collaborated to reduce fleet emissions through fuel and equipment upgrade projects. A blend of public and private cost-sharing supported action on each party’s voluntary commitments.
Recent studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality show that there is an elevated amount of air pollution in North Portland. Residents of North Portland also have a high rate of respiratory ailments that exceed statewide and national averages. Many of these ailments have been linked to the elevated levels of air pollution and specifically diesel emissions that occur near to where diesel is used. North Portland has a significant number of freight and distribution yards that use diesel as fuel for their vehicles. North Portland is also bordered by the Willamette and the Columbia Rivers where ship and barge traffic burn heavier fuels. Vehicles using I-5 are a contributor to the diesel pollution loads in the neighborhood as well.
Several voluntary and coordinated efforts have emerged relating to the use of cleaner fuels, add-on control devices, and fuel efficiency in advance of the national mandates. The collective effect helped to improve local air quality–improvements that aimed to improve the residents’ health. The project was also seen as a less costly transition for the diesel fleet owners and operators and served as an economic catalyst for local fuel production.
- To reduce the near term diesel pollution load
- To support Environmental Justice Action Group’s existing and ongoing program through recruitment of additional businesses into the voluntary effort
- To leverage funding to support the transition costs for participating private and public fleets
- To generate positive publicity for the project and project participants