Maine bill intended to reduce truck idling emissions

| 1/21/2008

A bill in the Maine Legislature is intended to reduce unnecessary idling of large trucks throughout the state. In most instances, drivers idling their trucks while sleeping or resting would be exempt from the rule.

Sponsored by Rep. Jon Hinck, D-Portland, the bill would apply the restrictions to trucks idling for more than five minutes in any 60-minute period. Those same trucks could idle for an additional five minutes in any 60-minute period when temperatures are 32 degrees or colder.

A separate provision in the bill is intended to limit idling while trucks wait to load or unload. Owners of locations served by trucks would be prohibited from causing vehicles to idle for more than 30 minutes while waiting to do business at the location.

Violators of the business restriction would be issued warnings. Repeat offenders would face $500 fines. Truckers in violation of the five-minute rule would be issued warnings. Repeat offenders would face $150 fines.

Supporters want to make Maine the 14th state to adopt statewide idling restrictions. They say that excessive truck idling is extremely detrimental to the state’s air quality. They are hopeful the proposed restrictions would go a long way in making cleaner air more widely available throughout the state.

Exemptions would include situations when vehicles are stuck in traffic or when idling is necessary to operate defrosters, heaters, air conditioners or installing equipment “solely to prevent a safety or health emergency” that is not part of a rest period.

In addition, the idling prohibition would not apply when idling of trucks is necessary for “maintenance, servicing, repair or diagnostic purposes.”

The bill – LD2056 – is in the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee. The panel is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill Tuesday, Jan. 22.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Maine in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor