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County Emission Policies Short Of State Goals

Policies currently in place in Lane County would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks only 3 percent by 2035 — 17 percent less than the state goal of 20 percent — according to an evaluation completed in February by the Central Lane Scenario Planning Team.

The Oregon Legislature’s HB 2001, aka the Jobs and Transportation Act, was passed in 2009, and it requires the Central Lane Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to develop and analyze potential scenarios that will accommodate population and employment growth as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles in the metro area. They will recommend one scenario to the Eugene City Council.

Representatives from the cities of Eugene, Springfield and Coburg and from Lane County, Lane Council of Governments (LCOG) and Lane Transit District are participating in the planning. Phase one of the planning process included assessing the policies currently in place.

“Our existing policies, as we have them right now, don’t get us where we need to go,” Eugene Climate and Energy Analyst Matt McRae says.

He says a mixture of policy changes will need to be implemented in order to meet the state’s light-duty vehicle emission reduction goal. 

“There’s no one lever — there’s no policy lever or educational lever or taxing lever — alone that will get us to those reductions,” McRae says. 

Possible emission reduction measures will be used as the variable when evaluating scenarios during phase two of the planning. The team will examine policy changes within the categories of community design, pricing, marketing and incentives, says Josh Roll, a transportation analyst with LCOG. The team will also look at health-related effects in the next phase.

“We’ll be using a certain set of tools to determine loss of life from vehicle crashes, quality of life outcomes based around respiratory- and air quality-related diseases,” Roll says. The team will also analyze how active transportation impacts diabetes and other diseases related to sedentary lifestyles.

The bill does not require the city to implement a scenario suggested by Central Lane MPO. City Councilor Alan Zelenka says the City Council hopes “that it’ll make so much sense, of course we’ll implement it.”