Effective July 10, 2010, North Carolina put in place new regulations restricting idling of heavy vehicles, 15A NCAC 25.1010. In a questionable legitimate procedural maneuver reminiscent of Animal House’s double secret probation, the regulation became law when the NC Legislature failed to disapprove it before it adjourned for the term. This was the case even though administrative objections were filed within the comment period.
North Carolina now restricts a person who operates a heavy-duty vehicle (an on-road gasoline and/or diesel powered motor vehicle, excluding trailer(s), with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more) from idling for a period of time in excess of 5 consecutive minutes in any 60 minute period. The rule contains several exceptions dealing with safety, health and economic concerns. Trucks are allowed to idle if necessary for refrigerating, hoisting, loading, or otherwise performing the designed function of the vehicle. These exemptions do not apply when idling is for driver comfort only. The rule also includes exemptions for emergency vehicles responding to emergencies, farm, and military trucks. In addition, a truck with an occupied sleeper berth may also idle for the purposes of air conditioning or heating during federally mandated rest periods. Situations in which idling is necessary due to traffic conditions or required vehicle maintenance, inspection or repairs are also exempted under the new rule. The complete Heavy-Duty Vehicle Idling Restrictions, and exemptions, can be viewed at the following address: http://www.ncair.org/rules/rules/D1010.pdf.
It is estimated that the rule will reduce carbon monoxide emissions by up to 100,000 tons per year.
The Division of Air Quality has stated that its initial plans are to focus on education and outreach. Notwithstanding, the rule (including fines) will be eventually enforced on a complaint-driven basis.
The Environmental Management Commission adopted the rule as part of North Carolina’s efforts to reduce air pollution in order to meet more stringent federal air quality standards. It is estimated that the rule will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in North Carolina by as much as 1,300 tons per year, it will save vehicle operators up to 9 million gallons of fuel annually and reduce carbon monoxide emissions by up to 100,000 tons per year.
The state recognizes that enforcement of the new rule may involve some cost or inconvenience for drivers; however, it is believed that those costs should be more than offset by fuel savings and improvement in air quality. Drivers are encouraged to rest at truck stops that provide electricity and other services or by installing auxiliary power units to provide their own electricity. Although APUs can be costly, the state estimates that the fuel and wear-and-tear savings from reduced idling may offset the cost of an APU within one or two years for most trucks. The North Carolina Division of Air Quality is offering rebates to some drivers who install APUs. Information about this program can be found at www.ncair.org/motor/grants/
The Rebate Program will remain in effect until March 31, 2011.
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