The Departement of Environmental Protection (DEP) is in the midst of hearings and rule making on idling enforcement. Some changes could gut the idling laws, while others will make it much more difficult for citizens to report commercial idling scofflaws. It will make it easier for vehicle operators to avoid or fight summonses .
To DEP’s credit, they recently denied an exemption to a fund carrier company. This after advocates and CB4 testified with vigor against the request. But it seems that the tide is in favor of making life easier for the large polluters who ruin our air quality.
Our district has the third worse quality in the city. In 2020 25 volunteers performed measurements on the ground and confirm this very sad state of affairs.
What is the citizen reporting program ?
The idling law limits to 3 minutes maximum idling (or 1 minute around schools). In the last three years the program that lets citizens file documentation that result in summonses has yielded excellent results. The number of summonses for commercial vehicles increased from 1,298 in 2018 to 8,199 in 2020.
So it is not surprising that the industry hired lobbyists and is in a full attack mode on the existing rules. This is the first time that their drivers are actually caught idling and it costs them money. Think thousands of vehicles from Spectrum, Amazon, Greyhound and Brinks all idling for hours . Con Edison has accumulated over 1,000 summonses in the last three years! Meanwhile, enforcement works: hundreds of smaller companies have changed their ways and do not idle any longer.
While the number look large, they still represent a minuscule percentage of the actual idling these companies ‘ drivers engage in.
You must read Patrick Schnell’s Oped on the issue . Patrick is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics who has worked for several years as a hospitalist and emergency department physician at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx where asthma rates are among the highest in the country.
We thank Senator Brad Hoylman , Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, Council Member Eric Bottcher adn Manhattan Community Board 4 for sending a clear message to DEP.
Now is not the time to back off; DEP must stand up to big polluters who increase their profits by making our families and our neighbors sick; and DEP must make it easy for the little guy to report bad behavior.