Portland Will Entertain Banning Sale of Fossil-Based Diesel Fuel Within City Limits

City Council considers measures to curb global warming as heat wave looms.

BIG RIG: Truck traffic along Northeast Sandy Boulevard. (Brian Burk)

The city of Portland will seek public comment on banning the sale of petroleum-based diesel fuel within the city limits as part of its Climate Emergency Work Plan, presented to the City Council today.

The work plan aims to curb diesel usage by electrifying trucks and using more biodiesel, which is derived from agricultural sources like cooking oil. The diesel ban will go out to public comment at the end of August, said Andria Jacob, climate policy and program manager for the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

The code change would “phase out petroleum diesel sold in the city of Portland over the next several years,” Jacob told the council.

The City Council is considering the climate work plan as most of the U.S. suffers under a stultifying heat wave. Temperatures in Portland are forecast to rise to 100 degrees Fahrenheit next week.

The Portland City Council declared a climate emergency in 2020 and directed city bureaus to take action with a focus on Black, Indigenous and low-income communities. The work plan lays out actions to take over the next three years to “prevent the worst-case scenarios.”

“It’s now or never for the climate,” Jacob told the council. “Please choose now.”

Representatives for fueling stations and the trucking industry says today’s proposal caught them by surprise.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” says Jana Jarvis, president of the Oregon Trucking Associations Inc. “I can’t imagine my members would be very excited about the idea.”

Jarvis also chairs the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Freight Mobility Committee. She said there’s been no discussion of the concept there, either.

Danelle Romain, a lobbyist for the Oregon Fuels Association, which represents gas station owners, also said her group is in the dark. “The city hasn’t contacted us at all,” Romain says. She adds that OFA members are seeking to increase the amount of renewable fuel they sell but competition from stations in California and Washington is intense. “There’s a major shortage of renewable diesel,” Romain says.

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