Wisconsin preps for proposed statewide idling limit

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 6/24/2009

Wisconsin may not have California’s air quality problems, but that’s not stopping the state from preparing for its first idling restriction.

The Wisconsin Clean Diesel Coalition – including representatives of trucking, government and environmentalists – met in mid-June and hashed over a proposed idling restriction for the Badger State.

Brett Hulsey, who once worked for the Sierra Club and is now an energy and environmental consultant, said Wisconsin appears poised to act on the idling proposal as part of the recommendations by Gov. Jim Doyle’s Global Warming Task Force.

The Environmental Protection Agency rates U.S. counties that exceed federal standards for ozone or particulate matter. Hulsey said the EPA standards prove Wisconsin’s air quality needs improvement.

“Wisconsin has at least three and maybe as many as six counties in non-attainment for particulate matter and others for ozone non-attainment as well,” Hulsey said. “California has the worst air quality in the country, but we have some non-attainment issues as well.”

As the restriction’s draft stands, Wisconsin’s proposed idling measure would restrict idling for all commercial vehicles on-road and off-road to five minutes in any 60-minute period, though it would allow idling to prevent a health emergency and when temperatures are below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Trucks could idle for 15 minutes per hour when temperatures are below 40 degrees or above 75.

Hulsey, a county supervisor for Dane County, WI, said he expects the Wisconsin Legislature to take up the matter by this fall.

“Our goal is to try to promote as many low-idling APU units as possible with the grants – and then use this idling law as education for owner operators and the general public too,” Hulsey told Land Line.  “We want it to be practical enough to where people can still operate their rigs and do it safely.”

Shortly before being interviewed by Land Line, Hulsey said he saw a car idling for at least five minutes while the driver was inside a fast food restaurant.

“I don’t think people realize how much fuel they waste,” Hulsey said. “The good news is the diesel industry has come a long ways in this area with unnecessary idling. Clearly, the diesel industry is ahead of gasoline.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer


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