DEP Panel Backs New Diesel Idling Rules: Patriot News

September 17th, 2008: The Patriot News

DEP Panel Backs New Diesel Idling Rules

by Elizabeth Gibson

Excerpt:

A landmark approval sets the stage for statewide limits on pollution caused by idling truck and bus engines.

Members of a state Department of Environmental Protection board backed a regulation proposed by the 3-year-old Clean Air Board of Central Pennsylvania.

Clean Air asked for limits on diesel-engine idling after Carlisle-area physicians spotlighted the region’s higher-than-average air pollution.

“We believe a sensible regulation limiting idling emissions from diesel vehicles will protect the health of all Pennsylvanians, particularly those who suffer from respiratory problems,” said Rev. Jennifer McKenna, Clean Air’s president.

The measure is expected to win approval from three other state entities, including the state attorney general’s office, which will review it over the next few months, said William Rathbun, DEP spokesman.

“There has not been any opposition,” he said, adding that truck and warehousing industry representatives voiced support for a uniform idling law.

Rathbun said just one member of the 20-member Environmental Quality Board voted against idling limits, citing a clause that retains the right of towns with existing idling laws to increase the amount of time buses may idle in certain cases.

McKenna said idling limits are particularly needed in Cumberland County, which DEP studies found had the greatest amount of long-duration idling.

The midstate thrives on the economic benefits of being a transportation hub, she said.

“[But] every truck that idles over a long period of time at rest stops and truck facilities emits pounds of ground-level pollutants and contributes to poor air quality,” McKenna said.

ELIZABETH GIBSON: 249-2006 or egibson@patriot-news.com

PROPOSED RULES

Truck engines would idle no more than five minutes in an hour. Exceptions: Idling may exceed limits in some cases, including while repairs are being done, when a truck is stuck in traffic and when a truck engine meets new reduced- pollution emissions standards; also, trucks with equipment that reduces main engine idling, using electricity to power heat or air conditioning. Bus engines, including school buses, would idle no more than 15 minutes in an hour. Exceptions: Idling could exceed limits to maintain the health of special-needs students. Also, longer idling would be permitted to warm or cool buses for passengers but only when the bus is stored outside and outdoor temperatures are below 40 degrees or above 75 degrees — and only until May 1, 2010, when the exemption expires. The new law would not apply to motor homes and farm equipment….

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