Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission voted Wednesday to deny a petition to create rules regulating diesel emissions from construction sites, distribution centers and other non-road sources.

The Department of Environmental Quality staff submitted their recommendation for denial to the EQC, which had been petitioned in December by Neighbors for Clean Air and nearly two dozen other environmental advocates.

The petition called for a cap on toxic diesel emissions from non-road sources. It also called for a new air pollution rule that would regulate diesel emissions from those sources.

The DEQ advised against additional rule-making because Oregon currently has multiple programs and plans for reducing and bringing down diesel emissions statewide. The department said these programs will provide for them the data and models needed to quantify, regulate, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as they currently do not have the resources available to undertake the actions that were called for in the petition.

Some of those plans include the Clean Fuels Program and Vehicle Inspection Program and newer ones that have been around a little over a year, like the Clean Vehicle Standards and Rebates program.

“These are all programs that are in different stages of their implementation, some of these programs we have good data on over the years and have been able to monitor their impact. Others given that they’re in their infancy we really don’t have good data to say what would be the on the ground impact and what kind of trends in reduction we can expect,” DEQ’s Deputy Director Leah Feldon said.

Feldon said the goal is to really look into the programs that are currently implemented and find out where do they have some gaps in regulation.

Neighbors for Clean Air Executive Director Mary Peveto said the decision to deny the petition is a huge blow to the health and welfare of Oregonians.  

“It’s basically saying the state is satisfied with continuing to allow unregulated diesel emissions that cause significant public harm and harm to our climate continue,” Peveto said.

Neighbors for Clean Air along with other climate justice groups are currently working towards encouraging the city of Portland to take action on reducing non-road diesel emission sources.

“We will continue to work with local governments to act where the state won’t,” Peveto said.

During the meeting, EQC Chair Kathleen George submitted a draft resolution to make a statement about their commitment in looking at the non-road toxic diesel emissions and for the next steps they would like for the DEQ to take.

The DEQ has also commissioned a Non-road Diesel Emissions Inventory report that is expected to be released by the end of Spring.

The EQC will schedule a special meeting sometime in April that will address the resolution.