Climate Emergency

19 of the hottest 20 years have occurred during the past two decades. This warming trend also shows the unmistakable sign of human activity, which emits tens of billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. To protect my family, community and Portland, please join me in recognizing that we are experiencing a climate emergency. Every decision we make must consider the effects on the climate.

Renewable (Green) Diesel – Clean Fuels – Today’s Bridge to Electric

This March, my company began the use of Renewable Diesel. With our first 10,000 gallon delivery, we reduced the carbon (CO2), particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) our trucks emit by up to 60%. This extraordinary technology meets the same molecular specs as standard Petroleum Diesel so it can be used in the same equipment without any conversion costs. The production cost of Renewable Diesel is much higher but with credits from Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program the sell price closely matches standard Petroleum Diesel. As the commissioner of our transportation department, this will be one of the first moves I ask my new team to consider and implement. Our city doesn’t have to wait for electric trucks to have some of the cleanest air in the country.

 

Zero Carbon Infrastructure - Portland as the leader in our nation with ELECTRIC VEHICLE WORKFORCE

By 2030, Portland’s municipal operations including our entire transportation department will consist of zero carbon maintenance shops, zero carbon warehouse operations and zero carbon vehicles. I have experience converting my company to the first two items and I have been working with truck manufacturers this past year to make the jump to zero emission heavy duty vehicles when they become available. Trucks make up four percent of the registered vehicles in Oregon yet contribute 27% of carbon created from the transportation sector. With these changes, Portland will have the cleanest municipal fleet in the nation.

 

Green Streets – 1.2 million plastic water bottles repurposed for every mile

There is a revolutionary new paving process that recycles the road in place, mixes recycled plastic bottles with chewed up asphalt, repaves a road without adding any new asphalt, takes only a few hours to cure and lasts seven times longer than our current technology.

Green Streets repaving will no longer require our paving teams to grind out 42 trucks worth of waste and haul that away and bring in 42 trucks of new hot mixed asphalt per mile. This process change alone reduces FOUR metric tons of CO2 per mile.

The pavement is ground up and mixed with a material that includes up to 1,200,000 repurposed plastic bottles for every mile of repaving. The material combined with the plastic actually make the road stronger than our current process.

This extraordinary advancement and cost reduction method will enable PBOT to put a dent in the $200,000,000 backlog of deferred maintenance to Portland’s crumbling roads. But most importantly, this process is better for the environment as the total carbon footprint of making a road is reduced by 90% when recycling a road this way instead of repaving the usual way. Lower waste, lower emissions, lower costs, safer roads – a huge leap forward for Portland.

 

Road Funding Our Future – Shift From Congestion To WALK, BIKE or RIDE 

Oregon is a world leader in road use charging strategies and techniques. I have been fortunate to participate in workshops with transportation leaders from some of the greatest cities, including London, Stockholm, Singapore, New York and Utah, where we benchmark and compare programs, including Oregon’s weight mile tax for heavy vehicles and our OReGO variable miles traveled program for electric vehicles. We all realize that our current gas tax funding strategies are no longer sustainable with improved fuel efficiency and the trend to electric vehicles. Since 2004, gas tax revenue has decreased 22% as cars have become more efficient; however, road construction costs during that time frame have increased 44%. Our roads continue to fall further into disrepair and we lack the funds to make needed investment to a green transportation network. 

Portland’s population is expected to grow by 260,000 this next 20 years. We can only welcome this growth by changing to a city that Walks, Bikes or Rides. Our funding and focus for every street should emphasize and promote a safe walk or bike route. Each public transportation ride must be clean, efficient and faster than any other mode available and we must have an infrastructure that focuses on these three modes over all others. I have lived in both New York and London, two of the world’s leaders in walk, bike and ride, and have experienced the ease and reach of these networks considering the massive size of these cities. My transportation background and lived experience has readied me for the road ahead and to help ensure Portland becomes the most livable city in the nation.

This next decade is going to be critical to get right. Everything hinges on it. Our city, our state, our planet. We do not have time to sit back and debate the status quo. I’m optimistic that we can rise to the challenge. Please join me.

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  • Keith Wilson
    published this page in Priorities 2020-01-04 17:47:15 -0800