Texas bill covers idling issues

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 5/3/2011

A bill that could soon come up for consideration on the House floor would permit trucks with “clean idle” engines to idle while also providing an incentive to reduce idling. If approved by the House, SB493 would advance to the governor’s desk. The Senate already approved it.

Texas law now limits idling to five minutes per hour from April to October in cities that include Austin and Dallas. Counties that make idling off limits are Bastrop, Caldwell, Collin, Hays, Kaufman, Tarrant, Travis and Williamson.

The idling restriction would be removed for trucks equipped with a 2008 model year or newer engine that is certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. Heavy-duty engines certified by a state environmental agency to emit fewer than 30 grams of NOx per hour would also qualify.

In the bill analysis, Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, wrote that “during many months of the year, it is impossible for a driver to get the rest he or she needs without air conditioning or heat.”

OOIDA Senior Member Danny Schnautz of Pasadena, TX, said the idling issue in Texas warrants attention. Schnautz is in charge of operations, sales and accounting for Clark Freight Lines in Pasadena, TX.

“During the summer months we’re forced to sit in this hotbox. Anything that moves toward the flexibility of letting the truck idle is a good thing,” Schnautz previously told Land Line.

Also included in the bill is a provision to increase the maximum weight limits for large trucks equipped with idle-reduction technology.

Commercial vehicles equipped with auxiliary power units would be authorized to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds.

Supporters say the allowance rewards independent truck drivers and large trucking firms for utilizing technology to increase fuel economy and decrease emissions.

States were granted federal authority in 2005 to allow heavy-duty trucks to exceed the 80,000-pound maximum weight limit to encourage the use of idling-reduction equipment.

OOIDA has long advocated adoption of the 400-pound exemption, even before the federal authority was granted. Association leadership supports the exemption as reasonable because it’s another inducement to install APUs onto trucks.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 26 states have laws that allow the weight exemption. Texas is one of 17 states where the weight allowance is granted by enforcement policy rather than by state law.

Other states yet to permit the 400-pound exemption are California, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Texas, click here.

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.