Portland, Ore., considers banning sale of fossil-based diesel fuel

July 25, 2022

Ryan Witkowski

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The city of Portland is considering a ban on the sale of petroleum-based diesel fuel within the city limits.

In June 2020, the Portland City Council declared a climate emergency and called upon city offices to help reduce the city’s impact on the climate. On July 20, the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability presented the Climate Emergency Workplan to the Portland City Council. The plan is a three-year roadmap for the city as it begins taking steps toward a carbon emission goal of net-zero.

“This work plan lays out the priority actions we must take over the next three years, in order to prevent the worst-case scenarios,” the work plan read. “We have the technologies — and still have some time — to protect this city we love and the legacy we leave. But we must act now.”

The work plan aims to curb carbon emissions in five areas: electricity supply, buildings, transportation, industry and embodied carbon.

The plan outlines two carbon-reduction targets:

  • By 2030, a 50% reduction in the city’s carbon emissions compared to 1990 levels.
  • By 2050, reduce carbon emissions to net zero.

According to data provided in the work plan, the proposed policy changes – including the fossil-based diesel fuel ban – would lead to an anticipated 8% reduction in the city’s total emissions by 2030.

Stopping the sale of petroleum-based diesel fuel won’t be as simple as flipping a switch. The plan lays out several steps – such as improvements to infrastructure, access to electric vehicle charging stations, incentives for purchasing electric vehicles, and decoupling transportation funding from fossil fuels – that would be needed prior to the ban.

“Carbon pollution from trucks is an increasingly large proportion of Portland’s climate pollution,” the work plan read. “By electrifying trucks, along with replacing fossil diesel at the pump, reducing the amount of driving needed to deliver goods, and shifting last mile freight to low-carbon modes, we can significantly reduce both air pollution and climate pollution.”

Andria Jacob, climate policy and program manager for the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, presented the work plan to the Portland City Council. Jacob told the Willamette Week news, if adopted the changes would, “phase out petroleum diesel sold in the city of Portland over the next several years.”

While the plan will now move to public comment, those that stand to be greatly impacted by the proposal say they were in the dark. Jana Jarvis, president of the Oregon Trucking Association and chair for the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Freight Mobility Committee, was surprised by the proposal.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” Jarvis told the Willamette Week. “I can’t imagine my members would be very excited about the idea.”

The Oregon Fuels Association represents gas station owners across the state. Danelle Romain, a lobbyist for the Association, echoed that sentiment.

“The city hasn’t contacted us at all,” Romain told the Willamette Week.

According to city officials, the plan will move to public comment in late August. LL

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