Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Urgent Action Item to Idle-Free VT Network

The Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in response to a petition submitted by the American Lung Association, Conservation Law Foundation, and Vermont Natural Resources Council, as well as being called on by Idle-Free VT and others, has developed a draft framework for a rule to limit vehicle idling.

The scope of this proposal sets a limit for idling of ALL MOTOR VEHICLES in Vermont: heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles.

While idling restriction bills have been submitted for a decade in the legislature, mostly targeted at vehicles in excess of 10,000 lbs. (medium- and heavy-duty), all but a school bus idling rule have failed to be enacted. One of the key issues impeding the progress of these bills has been objections by trucking industry lobbyists, feeling they have been unfairly targeted by not including all vehicles in an idling regulation. This, depite the fact that while heavy duty vehicles (which are predominantly diesel) are only a small fraction of the total population of cars and trucks, they contribute a disproportionately large share of air pollutant emissions. The DEC, agreeing that unnecessary idling of light duty vehicles also impacts public health and the environment, and wastes fuel, has included light-duty vehicles in this draft framework. This is exciting news as Idle-Free VT has advocated for a Vermont all-motor vehicle idling reduction law since its inception six years ago; the enactment of this rule will strengthen our ongoing educational efforts targeted at all motorists.

The DEC is seeking informal comments on the draft framework for a rule to limit vehicle idling (see below) prior to initiating a formal rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act. Please submit comments on the draft framework to Richard A. Valentinetti, Director, by February 5, 2013.

Most important in your comments is to indicate your basic support of this rule. You are welcome to submit specific comments based on the draft below. Idle-Free VT recommends that light-duty vehicles be limited to 3 minutes of idling: light-duty vehicles generally only need 30 seconds to warm up while diesels need three minutes or more. In urging support of this rule, you can use the facts listed on the Idle-Free VT website Idling Facts pages. You can also relate specific excessive idling events that have impacted you and may have allowed for legal recourse were there a rule.
General Limitation on Unnecessary Idling:

Subject to the activity-based exemptions set forth below, idling of heavy duty vehicles and light duty vehicles would generally be limited to no more than five (5) consecutive minutes in any 60 minute period while the vehicle is not in motion.  Limiting idling to no more than 5 minutes in any 60 minute period accommodates any necessary engine warm up, cool down, or portions of a pre-trip inspection that require the engine to be running.

Activity Based Exemptions:

The general limitation on idling set forth above would not apply in the following situations where idling is necessary:
(1) Operation of the vehicle’s engine is necessary in order to provide power for an auxiliary purpose such as loading, discharging, mixing or processing cargo, controlling cargo temperature, well drilling or servicing, farming, lumbering or construction;

(2) Operation of the vehicle’s engine is necessary in order to comply with federal or state requirements for maintaining a specific cabin temperature or verifying the functionality of safety equipment;

(3) Operation of the vehicle’s engine is necessary in order to operate defrosting, heating or cooling equipment to ensure the safety or health of the driver or passengers and not part of a rest period;

(4) The vehicle is being used as an emergency vehicle in an emergency situation;

(5) For heavy duty vehicles only, the vehicle is equipped with a sleeper berth and is occupied by the operator for the purpose of sleeping or resting;*

(6)  The vehicle is forced to remain motionless on a public road because of traffic conditions over which the operator has no control;

(7) The vehicle is being serviced and the operation of the engine is essential to diagnosing the problem, tuning the engine or checking the adequacy of the service performed; or

 (8) The operator has been instructed by a federal, state or local official to keep the engine running and the vehicle is waiting for, or undergoing, an inspection by the official.
*Auxiliary heaters and/or power units are available as factory installed equipment on new HDVs, or as retrofit installations on existing HDVs. This exception would sunset after a reasonable time period (e.g., 3 years) to allow HDV owners/operators to equip vehicles accordingly.


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