People who walk (and run) the sidewalks and streets of downtown Portland were relieved six years ago when Metro buses began operating on compressed natural gas. Before then, we choked behind the exhaust pipes of the city’s diesel buses.

Thank you, Portland Metro, but that did not resolve the problem. Today the worst polluting vehicles on Portland’s streets – not including the city’s firetrucks, which are necessary – are the tourist vehicles, especially the Portland Fire Engine Co. and the “Duck.”

When these strange-looking, teetering vehicles pass by on downtown streets they leave behind a trail of heavy, particle-laden diesel fumes. A pedestrian or jogger holding their breath in the exhaust plume of one of these monsters can feel sympathy for our valued tourists onboard as the thing lumbers up Fore Street for a pause at Fort Allen Park – the view of Casco Bay and the islands will be breathtaking, but for the wrong reason.

It’s time for the city of Portland to make another move toward a clean-energy future by banning such overtly polluting diesel-burning tourist vehicle engines.

Charles Kaufmann


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