BPS submitted a proposal in April 2009 in response to an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) funding for the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance program through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Our proposal for the “Portland Clean Diesel Partnership” has been recommended for funding in the amount of $1,622,348. When combined with other related grant funds from the EPA and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the City expects to receive nearly $2.5 million to spend on public and private clean diesel projects in Portland, Multnomah and Salem over the next 18 months.
This project builds on the existing leadership and effort of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, CityFleet, the Water Bureau, Parks and Recreation, the Bureau of Environmental Services and others to reduce emissions from diesel engines, one of the most important air quality challenges facing this country. According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), 37 percent of diesel air toxics in the Portland-area are emitted from construction equipment, severely impacting the health of Multnomah County residents. The DEQ estimates that each ton of diesel particulate matter results in $398,425 in environmental damage and public health costs.
The project will fund the installation of diesel exhaust filters, as well as “fuel operated heaters” (to enable our field crews to warm vehicle engines, defrost windows and heat their cabs without having to idle the engine)—resulting in reduced air emissions and saved diesel fuel. Portland and Multnomah County will also pilot clean diesel contracting requirements and funding diesel exhaust retrofits for private construction contractors working on a number of upcoming publicly funded construction projects.
Estimates indicate that over 21 jobs are created for every million dollars spent on diesel retrofit projects of this nature. The number of people employed in the Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealer sector in Oregon has decreased by 18.9 percent, representing a loss of 4,200 jobs in the last year. This employment sector would see the most activity from diesel retrofitting project, which is critical to economic recovery in Oregon, as the unemployment rate in this particular sector has grown faster than the state-wide averages for several other sectors.
The project will invest in idle reduction and diesel emission retrofitting activities that provide long-term economic benefits by protecting the environment and improving public health. Such efforts will help reduce serious problems like asthma, lung cancer and various cardiac and respiratory diseases, which currently result in thousands of premature deaths and millions of lost work-days each year.
The grant program is a partnership between BPS, CityFleet, Multnomah County and the City of Salem.