California has already started banning older diesel engines, which has raised concerns that companies will sell their old trucks into Oregon.

California has already started banning older diesel engines, which has raised concerns that companies will sell their old trucks into Oregon.

Cassandra Profita/EarthFix

Amid a flurry of last-minute votes on Sunday, Oregon senators voted 16-11 to pass a bill regulating diesel trucks in the Portland metro area.

House Bill 2007 requires truck owners to replace older diesel engines with newer models by 2025. The House passed the bill 44-15 last week.

The goal is to reduce toxic diesel pollution by requiring 2010 model year engines or newer. Those engines filter out almost all of the diesel particulate that is known to cause cancer and other respiratory diseases.

The bill would help pay for engine upgrades using about $50 million in settlement money from the Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal.

The Legislature failed to pass similar diesel engine regulations in 2015 and 2017, but did pass a bill that directed some of the Volkswagen settlement funds toward replacing 450 old diesel school buses across the state.

Senator Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, who co-sponsored the bill, said reducing diesel pollution will also cut greenhouse gas emissions – including the black carbon that comes from diesel engines.

“The quicker we can curb that and start bringing down those particulates, not only is it good for public health but it’s also necessary for the health of the planet,” he said.

Lawmakers failed to pass a cap-and-trade bill this session to address climate change.

Dembrow said a policy of that kind would raise revenue to replace older diesel engines outside the Portland metro area.

Trucking industry opponents of the cap-and-trade bill also protested the diesel bill, but they dropped their opposition after the bill was amended to affect only Portland-area trucks.

Dembrow said the problem of diesel pollution is most acute in the city.

“The population density, the confluence of freeways and ports and manufacturing and construction have made Multnomah County, my county, one of the most affected by diesel pollution in the entire nation,” he said. “So we’ve decided we need at this point to concentrate our resources to do the most good and help the most people with public health.”