Oregon city considers truck idling ban

March 20, 2012

A proposed ban on truck idling in North Bend, OR, was the subject of a public hearing last week. The ordinance proposes a five-minute idling limit for trucks with a gross vehicle weight more than 10,001 lbs., unless more time is needed to defrost windows. Violators would be fined $150 for a first offense and $300 for a second offense; a truck driver and any landowner allowing idling could be fined.

The majority of people who spoke out at the hearing were against the ordinance, including representatives of TravelCenters of America, according to a Sno Valley Star report.

“We pay $45,000 in property taxes annually that goes to help your schools and the city,” Drew Macauley, TA field manager, pointed out. “We also employ 61 people, and more than half of them live in North Bend.”

The TA truck stop, known locally as Truck Town, has been located near exit 34 off Interstate 90 for nearly 40 years. But the city’s boundary has expanded over the years, and now Truck Town sits close to a large residential area and a middle school. City leaders said complaints about the noise and fumes, and concerns about air quality, are what prompted the ordinance.

Tom Kemp, of North Bend, said that statements about the adverse effects of idling in the ordinance are unsupported. The ordinance states that residents “have been adversely affected by idling of heavy-duty diesel trucks.”

“That’s an unsupported assumption, because no air quality studies have been conducted,” Kemp said, pointing out that truck engines and fuel have been improved in recent years and aren’t the polluters they used to be.

“Just because a truck is idling doesn’t mean there’s toxic exhaust,” Kemp said.

Larry Costich, a Seattle attorney who represents TA, said what the city is trying to do has “laudable goals, but it’s premature for the times.”

“There are no measured environmental impacts,” Costich said. “But the economic impact to the truckers and the truckstop will be felt. And they contribute to the economic development of this community.

The city hopes to encourage the trucking industry to use onboard generators to heat or cool vehicles without the trucks running. Grants would be sought for constructing electrical outlets in parking areas, city documents state.

But Macauley said the city’s plan was “premature and technologically infeasible.”

Alternative power units cost about $10,000 each, consequently only one in five trucks have APUs, Macauley said. The price tag is out of reach for many independent drivers, he added.

He added that supplying electrified outlets doesn’t do truckers any good because heating and air-conditioning units in the trucks run off the engine, not electricity.

The council took no action after the public hearing.

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Deborah Whistler

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