Texas bill covers idling issues

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/18/2011

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.

Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, is the sponsor of a bill that would remove the idling restriction 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.

Owner-operator and OOIDA Senior Member Danny Schnautz of Pasadena, TX, said the idling issue in Texas warrants attention.

?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 told Land Line.

The bill ? SB493 ? is in the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

A separate provision in the bill would 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.

Schnautz said the weight exemption would make a big difference.

?We need it. The 2010 engines already create a heavier truck than previous engines. Anything we can do to get an extra allowance is one more point that helps us justify APUs,? he said.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 states have laws that allow the weight exemption. Texas is one of 18 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.