Photo of Freightliner eCascadia electric heavy duty truck on Fremont Bridge, Portland, Oregon USA
Photo: Daimler AG
Keeping the momentum going on clean transportation

Last month, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a pair of Climate Solution’s high-priority transportation bills into law that will help accelerate our state's adoption of zero-emission electric vehicles (EVs)! 

  • HB 2165: This bill extends state incentives for purchasing or leasing electric vehicles that are poised to sunset, expands the Charge Ahead Electric Vehicle Rebate Program for low- and moderate-income residents, and requires utilities to invest in Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure and programs, while devoting at least half the funds to underserved communities. 
  • HB 2180: This bill amends state building codes to require new construction to be built “Electric Vehicle-ready”, so buildings will already have the electrical hookups and other prerequisites necessary to cost-effectively install EV charging stations in the future. 

Increasing year over year, the transportation sector remains Oregon's largest source (40%) of climate pollution, so ensuring that the future of Oregon’s transportation is electric and powered by clean electricity—not burning fossil fuels—is critical for cleaning up our air and for achieving our state’s climate goals. While the passage of these important bills will help us get more EVs on our roads, we’re continuing to work to ensure we obtain an equitable and electric transportation system for all!

With five months left until the end of 2021, we’re busily supporting the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) as they develop two important regulations that we hope will be adopted by the new year. The rules described below are critical to reduce climate pollution in the transportation sector and improve public health, especially in communities disproportionately burdened by air pollution (BIPOC and low-income communities).

  1. Clean Truck Rules
    • WHAT: The Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) rule and Heavy-Duty Omnibus (Low-NOx) rule are powerful and complementary tools that must be adopted together to effectively reduce diesel pollution and jumpstart the zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty (MHD) truck market. The ACT rule compels truck manufacturers to offer more zero-emission MHD trucks for sale, while the Low-NOx rule will reduce toxic air pollution from new fossil fuel-powered MHD trucks sold beginning model year 2025.
    • WHY: Although heavy duty vehicles comprise 10 percent of all vehicles on the road in the US, they account for nearly 25 percent of total U.S. climate pollution from transportation and 45 percent of overall NOx emissions. In order to achieve our climate goals, Oregon must adopt transportation regulations to progressively reduce climate pollution from this sector. Chronic exposure to toxic diesel pollution has also been linked to higher rates of cancer, heart disease and respiratory disorders. This pollution disproportionately affects low-income and BIPOC communities, who are disproportionately located next to ports, highways, and other pollution hot spots.
    • HOW: To reduce the public health impacts on Oregonians and ensure Oregon achieves its greenhouse gas reduction targets in the transportation sector, we will be working as part of the Clean Air, Healthy Communities Coalition to get both truck rules passed at the Environmental Quality Commission by the end of this year.
  2. Clean Fuels Program Expansion
    • WHAT: In March 2020, Governor Kate Brown signed Executive Order 20-04 (also known as the Oregon Climate Action Plan (OCAP). One of its provisions mandated the strengthening of our existing Clean Fuels Program to be the strongest in the nation. This October, the Oregon Department of Environmental (DEQ) will begin the rulemaking process to update our Clean Fuels Standard to achieve 25% lower carbon intensity in our fuels by 2035.
    • WHY: Designed to reduce the carbon footprint associated with fossil fuels, the Clean Fuels Program encourages the use of cleaner fuels such as electricity, ethanol, biodiesel, and renewable diesel to reduce emissions in Oregon’s transportation sector. Vehicles powered by clean fuels release less greenhouse gases (or even none, in the case of electricity!), while also allowing us to breathe easier by reducing toxic air pollution.
    • HOW: In the first round of Clean Fuels Program rulemaking (completed in January 2021), we worked with DEQ, climate and environmental protection advocates, developers of low carbon fuels, electric utilities, and fleet managers to ensure the program continues to accelerate investments in electric vehicles and low carbon fuels. We also focused our advocacy on ensuring that revenue generated by the Clean Fuels Program is invested in statewide electrification projects and helping to meet the transportation needs of Oregonians who need it the most. In the upcoming second round of rulemaking (scheduled to begin October 2021), we will continue to work with allies to make sure the promises of the Oregon Climate Action Plan (achieve 25% lower carbon intensity by 2035) are successfully implemented and defended.

Both the Clean Truck Rules and Clean Fuels Expansion offer tremendous opportunities to achieve reductions in climate and air pollution from one of Oregon’s dirtiest sectors. We are cautiously optimistic about potential major federal investments in fossil-free transportation infrastructure, as they could be used to fund any missing gaps such as charging infrastructure for all types of vehicles (buses, trucks, cars etc.), rebates for medium- and heavy duty vehicles, electric micro-mobility, operations and capital funding for transit, reconnecting communities and more. However, state and local governments cannot afford to wait: Toxic air pollution and the climate crisis have long been and continue to cause public health crises right now in our communities. We’re following those conversations with our partners as well as advocating for clean and just transportation options that continue to reduce vehicle miles traveled, enhance transportation options, electrify our transportation system, and create jobs. 

Author Bio

Victoria Paykar

Former Oregon Transportation Policy Manager, Climate Solutions

Vee brings a racial justice lens working on elevating holistic transportation solutions, developing a strategic and equitable transportation agenda for electrification, transitioning off fossil fuels, and reducing the need to drive by advocating for people-centered transportation policies. Prior to joining Climate Solutions, she was an Environmental Equity Fellow at the Greenlining Institute and the Transportation Equity Associate at Center for Sustainable Energy. In those capacities she worked on programs and policies to deliver equitable and intersectional climate benefits to low-income and communities of color. Vee graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Masters in International Relations and Environmental Policy and from the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelors in Anthropology and International Relations. Out of the office Vee enjoys learning to play guitar, trying new foods, hiking, running, and educating herself on anti-capitalist theory and on ways to create and demand for a more just and sustainable society.