Environmental Group Wants Diesel Idling Time Cut in Half

by Armando Duke

Feb 25, 2005 Chicago - The Clean Air Task Force released a study that said diesel fumes emitted by trucks can be cut in half within five years if idling times are reduced to three minutes max.

The Environmental Agency released new clean air standards for diesel engines that would reduce diesel emissions by 90%, but that only applies to new diesels, not the 13 million diesel vehicles on the road today, the Clean Air Task Force said.

According to the Task Force study, diesel fumes from trucks, school buses and construction equipment causes 540 premature deaths, 707 non-lethal heart attacks and 11,459 asthma attacks every year in Cook County alone.

The Task Force said those figures could be cut in half statewide by reducing diesel idling time.

Illinois state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, has co-sponored a bill that would limit idling time to three minutes for diesel vehicles weighing over 8,000 pounds. Emergency vehicles would be exempt representative Nekritz said.

The Chicago chapter of the American Lung Association agrees and has publicly said they are backing Nekritz' clean air bill fully.

Lung Association spokesperson Brian Urbaszewski said waiting until 2025 for the federal law to take effect is way to long. "Illinois can cut diesel emissions 50 percent by 2010, 75 percent by 2015 and 85 percent by 2020 by passing this bill now", he said.