Towns target diesel-truck idling

Many Vermont municipalities are onboard when it comes to reducing diesel-truck idling. Diesel trucks-from private heavy duty pickups to commercial big rigs-can be found, especially on cold winter days, idling at homes, in supermarket parking lots, at convenient stores, rest areas, and elsewhere around the state.

While most diesel-exhaust studies have focused on congested urban areas-not open rural areas-there remain serious medical concerns about the long-term health effects of exposure to fumes. The Clean Air Task Force has claimed that respiratory problems caused by diesel exhaust will cost Vermont $78 million in health-care costs.

Last spring, the American Lung Association in Vermont launched a program-titled Vermont Idle-Free Fleets-to raise awareness of claims relating to health effects and the economic and environmental impact of unnecessary diesel idling.

"Reducing discretionary diesel engine idling is a simple yet very effective means of reducing emissions and helping improve air quality and meet clean air goals," said Al Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. "Simply put, the best way to reduce emissions is to turn an engine off."

Yet, even Schaeffer has to admit that cleaner diesel engines have changed old perceptions about "dirty diesels".

"In just the past 10 years, new clean diesel fuel and engine technologies have reduced emissions of fine particles and nitrogen oxide diesel emissions by 98 percent, which is a monumental accomplishment. New technologies and cleaner fuel have made clean diesel a reality," said Schaeffer.

Regardless of cleaner-burning engines since 2000, the Diesel Technology Forum supports antiidling programs as being good for public relations. The forum has been working with several regional

and state programs to reduce idling time.

Other supporters of idle-free efforts nationwide include the American Trucking Associations, the the National Private Truck Council, the Truckload Carriers Association, the National Association of Truckstop Operators, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, among others.

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