Regulation

DEC DRAFT RULE TO LIMIT MOTOR VEHICLE IDLING

 

In January 2013, the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in response to a petition submitted by the American Lung Association, Conservation Law Foundation, and Vermont Natural Resources Council, as well as being called on by Idle-Free VT and others, has developed a draft framework for a rule to limit vehicle idling.

 

The scope of this proposal sets a limit for idling of ALL MOTOR VEHICLES in Vermont: heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles.

 

While idling restriction bills have been submitted for a decade in the legislature, mostly targeted at vehicles in excess of 10,000 lbs. (medium- and heavy-duty), all but a school bus idling rule have failed to be enacted. One of the key issues impeding the progress of these bills has been objections by trucking industry lobbyists, feeling they have been unfairly targeted by not including all vehicles in an idling regulation. This, despite the fact that while heavy duty vehicles (which are predominantly diesel) are only a small fraction of the total population of cars and trucks, they contribute a disproportionately large share of air pollutant emissions. The DEC, agreeing that unnecessary idling of light-duty vehicles also impacts public health and the environment, and wastes fuel, has included light-duty vehicles in this draft framework. This is exciting news as Idle-Free VT has advocated for a Vermont all-motor vehicle idling reduction law since its inception six years ago; the enactment of this rule will strengthen our ongoing educational efforts targeted at all motorists.

 

February 5, 2013: DEC seeks informal comments on the draft framework for a rule to limit vehicle idling

 

February 5 - 21, 2013: three legislative bills (see the LEGISLATION page for details) to limit the idling of motor vehicles submitted

 

March 15, 2013: legislative bills not taken up

 

March 26, 2013: DEC Commissioner David Mears and Air Pollution Control Div. Mobile Sources Section Chief Tom Moye testify before House Transportation committee at State House seeking support of draft rule

 

March 29, 2013: Prior to initiating a formal rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act, the DEC is requesting comments from the public on the

draft rule:

 

INFORMAL REQUEST FOR COMMENTS ON

DRAFT RULE TO LIMIT MOTOR VEHICLE IDLING

 

March 29, 2013

 

Summary: The Agency of Natural Resources (“Agency”) intends to propose a rule to limit idling of motor vehicles. The proposed rule would establish a general limitation on motor vehicle idling that is subject to a number of activity-based exceptions to allow for situations in which it is necessary to operate the primary propulsion engine while the vehicle is stationary. The purpose of the rule is to reduce motor vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases and other harmful air pollutants. In advance of initiating a formal rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act, the Agency is requesting comments on the attached draft rule.

 

Public Comments: Prior to initiating a formal rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act, the Agency is requesting comments from the public on the attached draft rule. Please submit comments on or before Tuesday, June 4, 2013. Comments may be submitted electronically to david.love@state.vt.us or by mail to:

 

David Love

Vermont Air Pollution Control Division

Davis Building – 2nd Floor

One National Life Drive

Montpelier, VT 05620-3802

 

The Agency is offering this informal comment period to encourage public input into the development of the rule. This will not be the only opportunity to comment. When the Agency initiates a formal rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act, there will be a subsequent notice of proposed rulemaking and opportunity to comment.

 

Background: On June 20, 2012, the Agency received a petition from the American Lung Association, Conservation Law Foundation, and Vermont Natural Resources Council asking the Agency to promulgate a rule to limit idling of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or greater. The petitioners submitted the petition pursuant to 3 V.S.A. §806, which provides that a person may petition an agency in writing to adopt a rule, and requires the agency to either initiate rulemaking proceedings or deny the request and provide its reasons in writing. According to the petition, the petitioners requested the rule to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and health-damaging emissions of carcinogens and fine particulate matter from heavy-duty vehicles.

 

In response to the petition, the Agency met with the petitioners and a number of interested and potentially affected parties. Subsequently, on January 7, 2013, the Agency released a draft framework for a rule to limit motor vehicle idling and informally sought public comment on the draft framework for 30 days. After reviewing and carefully considering the comments received, the Agency is now seeking informal public comment on the

attached draft rule prior to initiating a formal rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act.

 

Statutory Authority: The statutory authority for the draft rule is 10 V.S.A. § 567(a), which provides:

 

The secretary in conjunction with the motor vehicle department may provide rules for the control of emissions from motor vehicles. Such rules may prescribe requirements for the installation and use of equipment designed to reduce or eliminate emissions and for the proper maintenance of the equipment and the vehicles. Rules pursuant to this section shall be consistent with provisions of federal law, if any, relating to control of emissions from the vehicles concerned and shall not require, as a condition precedent to the initial sale of a vehicle or vehicular equipment, the inspection, certification or other approval of any feature or equipment designed for the control of emissions from motor vehicles, if the feature or equipment has been certified, approved or otherwise authorized pursuant to federal law.

(Emphasis added to show discretionary and mandatory language.)

 

Under 10 V.S.A. § 567(a), the Secretary has broad discretion to establish rules to control emissions from motor vehicles. The use of the term “may” in the second sentence of 10 V.S.A. § 567(a) authorizes, but does not require, the Secretary to include maintenance requirements or requirements to install or use equipment to reduce emissions in such rules; while the use of the term “shall” in the third sentence requires that such rules be consistent with federal requirements, if any. Currently, there is no federal law regulating motor vehicle idling. Thus, 10 V.S.A. § 567(a) clearly authorizes the Secretary, in conjunction with the Department of Motor Vehicles, to promulgate a rule that sets limits on the use of the primary propulsion engine of on-road motor vehicles to reduce emissions.

 

Overview of the Draft Rule: The draft rule would apply to all on-road motor vehicles with a gross vehicles weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds when operating in Vermont and to all on-road motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less when operating in Vermont on public roads or in public parking areas. Although the petition for rulemaking focused solely on heavy duty vehicles, the Agency broadened the scope of the draft rule to include other vehicles in response to comments from stakeholders.

 

Under the draft rule, idling is generally limited, regardless of vehicle size, to no more than five consecutive minutes in any 60 minute period while the vehicle is not in motion. The draft rule also establishes a number of activity-based exceptions to the general limitation on idling, such as when running the vehicle’s engine is necessary to provide power for an auxiliary purpose, to operate safety equipment, during an inspection, while being serviced, due to traffic conditions, etc.

 

Limiting idling to five minutes in any one hour is consistent with current idling laws in most states, including the states bordering Vermont, and accommodates any necessary engine warm up or cool down. A five minute limit is also consistent with U.S. EPA’s model idling rule, which was based on national consensus among state regulators and industry representatives such as the American Trucking Association. In addition, manufacturers of engines used in heavy duty vehicles typically recommend limiting idling to no more than 5 minutes. Moreover, establishing a single limit for idling, regardless of vehicles size, will reduce confusion and aid in public outreach and education efforts.

 

Rationale for the Rule: Establishing a rule to limit motor vehicle idling is a simple pollution prevention measure to reduce motor vehicle emissions and result in fuel cost savings. In Vermont, motor vehicles are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. In addition, engine idling is a source of many other air pollutants, including: volatile organic compounds (VOC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which together contribute to increased ground-level ozone concentrations that can trigger asthma attacks and harm the respiratory system; fine particulate matter, which can cause respiratory and cardiovascular damage and lead to haze that reduces visibility; carbon monoxide (CO), an invisible, odorless gas that interferes with the delivery of oxygen to the body’s organs and tissues; and numerous toxic compounds, many of which are known or suspected carcinogens. Adopting a rule that limits idling will reduce emissions and the public’s exposure to these harmful pollutants.

 

DRAFT

 

5-704  IDLING OF MOTOR VEHICLES

 

(1) No person shall cause or allow the operation of the primary propulsion engine of a motor vehicle having a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 lbs. that is used on public roads or a motor vehicle having a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 lbs. or less while on public roads or in public parking areas, for more than five (5) consecutive minutes in any 60 minute period while the vehicle is not in motion except when:

 

(a) operation of the vehicle’s engine is necessary in order to provide power for an auxiliary purpose such as loading, discharging, mixing or processing cargo, controlling cargo temperature, well drilling or servicing, farming, lumbering or construction;

 

(b) operation of a passenger bus engine up to a maximum of 15 consecutive minutes in any 60 minute period is necessary in order to maintain passenger comfort when non-driver passengers are on board;

 

(c) operation of the vehicle’s engine is necessary in order to operate any safety equipment installed on the vehicle other than lighting systems, such as windshield defrosters, and the operation of that equipment is necessary at that time to address specific safety concerns;

 

(d) the vehicle is being used as an emergency vehicle in an emergency situation;

 

(e) the vehicle is forced to remain motionless on a public road because of traffic conditions over which the operator has no control;

 

(f) the vehicle is being serviced and the operation of the engine is essential to diagnosing the problem, tuning the engine or checking the adequacy of the service performed;

 

(g) the operator has been instructed by a federal, state or local official to keep the engine running and the vehicle is waiting for, or undergoing, an inspection by the official; or

 

(h) a model year 2017 or older vehicle is equipped with a sleeper berth and is occupied by the operator for the purpose of sleeping or resting.

 

SPECIAL NOTICE

 

With the enactment of the prohibited idling of motor vehicles law in May 2013, the DEC Draft Rule to limit motor

vehicle idling will remain on hold until the law takes effect on May 5, 2014.