By Wesley Ward, Portland Neighbors for Diesel Action

Clean-air construction on public sites in seven years?! Is that the best we can do?

Our City Council and County Commission are preparing to vote in December on their joint proposal for reducing diesel pollution at publicly-funded construction sites.

A public hearing will be held on the Clean Air Construction Standard, December 13 at City Hall.

Following the hearing, the Council and Commission may adopt it as a procurement requirement for contractors on public construction sites.

This is an important step in the overall campaign to reduce diesel emissions, especially their pervasive, ultra-fine and highly dangerous particulates that enter lungs and bloodstreams and find their way to internal organs and even our brains.

While we support this small foot-in-the-door, we want our leaders to do much better for a healthy Portland.

Join us at City Hall on December 13, at 8:30 am to rally in support of a stronger, more effective Clean Air Construction Standard.

We want our leaders to strengthen the proposed program as follows:

1. Compress the phase-in schedule as much as possible.

2. Ensure that the oldest, dirtiest diesels will not be allowed to install minimally effective filters and then be grandfathered until they age out or die.

3. Expand the program soon to apply to private construction projects assisted by city or county grants.

3. Provide clear funding plans to ensure rigorous administration, onsite monitoring and enforcement, and annual public reports.

4. Provide incentives and financial assistance for small contractors to comply early with later requirements in the phase-in period.

The proposal, if adopted, will limit idling and gradually require older diesels to install filters or be replaced. These requirements will be phased in over seven years from the date of adoption, starting with the oldest and dirtiest diesels.

The program will apply only to off-road diesels with 25+ horsepower and to dump trucks and cement trucks serving public construction sites.

If managed well, this initiative may have a positive effect on Portland’s overall diesel contractor market. It may also be a model for other cities and counties in Oregon and even for state-funded construction sites.

For information on the Clean Air Construction proposal, go to portlandoregon.gov/brfs/article/702876. For detailed comments on the proposal, see tinyurl.com/yavyj3ah