Incentive to install idling reduction devices hampered in Minnesota

| Friday, April 20, 2007

A bill in the Minnesota House has died that was intended to minimize the need for truck drivers to idle their trucks. However, the issue isn’t completely dead.

Sponsored by Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, a bill to establish a grant program for idling reduction technology purchases missed a deadline to advance, effectively killing it for the year. A companion bill in the Senate met the same fate.

Hortman’s bill – HF1280 – authorized the state to award grants to eligible applicants for up to 50 percent of the purchase and installation costs for one or more qualifying idling reduction devices.

To be eligible, truckers would have been required to be headquartered in the state and pay out of their own pockets at least 50 percent of the purchase and installation cost for each idling reduction device covered by the grant. Individuals and companies could have applied for grant funds for up to half of their “heavy-duty, diesel-powered, on-highway motor vehicles” owned and operated.

The grant program would have been funded with $2 million from the state’s general fund during the next two fiscal years. A maximum of 20 percent of the fiscal year appropriation could have been awarded to any one company. No more than 25 percent of the fiscal year appropriation could have been reserved for companies with up to 20 trucks.

While the legislation to offer grants for idling reduction has been sidelined, a bill that still is active would benefit truckers who want to reduce emissions. A provision was added to a Senate omnibus bill – SF2096 – that would make loans available to school districts and small trucking firms to install equipment to reduce fuel consumption.

The measure would earmark $2.4 million during the next two years for trucks and buses to be retrofitted. It’s awaiting consideration by a conference committee made up of select members of the House and Senate.

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