The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has stepped up enforcement efforts of its anti-idling laws for long-haul trucks.
The state is responding to a warning from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that 10 counties are not in compliance with federal rules regarding particulate matter pollution.
State and local governments have been given three years to develop plans to reduce the pollutants in the “nonattainment” areas. Federal officials have previously said failure to meet the standards could lead to a number of consequences, including loss of highway funds.
New Jersey law prohibits idling for more than three consecutive minutes when a vehicle is stopped, but does not apply to trucks in traffic. Fines start at $200 a day for vehicle operators and property owners, with enforcement carried out by Department of Environmental Protection inspectors statewide.
According to the agency, inspectors are targeting venues where diesel-powered vehicles rest, from fuel stops and warehouse distribution centers to loading areas.
The agency said it would also respond “aggressively” to resident complaints with the help of local environmental health agencies throughout the state.
Ed Stoney, a truck driver and OOIDA life member from Cliffwood, NJ, told Land Line he has yet to notice an increase in enforcement. Stoney said he is sure, however, the state will continue to seek out idling trucks in an effort to generate additional revenue.
“They are looking for the money, honey,” he scoffed. “They always look to truckers because we’re millionaires, you know.”
The provision does provide exceptions for a truck to idle at the driver’s home base for up to 30 consecutive minutes, but the truck can idle for that long only “when deemed absolutely necessary.” Otherwise, a truck at the driver’s home base may idle for only up to 15 minutes if the vehicle engine has been stopped for at least three hours.
The agency recommends drivers adopt a no-idling policy. In part, the Department of Environmental Protection said, it will save drivers money and protect their health.
Stoney said truckers who insist on idling have limited alternatives to avoid drawing inspectors’ attention. He suggested truckers add a generator — if they have a few thousand dollars burning a hole in their pockets — or simply stop idling.
“With the cost of fuel these days, just save your money,” he said.
—by Keith Goble, state legislative editor
Keith Goble can be reached at email@example.com.
Mark Reddig of Land Line contributed to this report.