Wal-mart Stores Inc. has agreed to implement a national idle-reduction plan and to pay a $50,000 fine to settle idling violations brought by the New England regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Under the settlement, Wal-mart will implement its idle-reduction program at all its facilities in the U.S.-- regardless of whether the given state has an anti-idling regulation in place.
“In states and local jurisdictions without anti-idling rules, there are no legal restrictions on idling time per se,” the EPA New England regional office said in an emailed statement to FleetOwner. “Under this settlement with EPA, however, Wal-Mart will establish a no-idling policy at stores located in those jurisdictions that do not prohibit idling. Under that policy, it will post no-idling signs at loading docks, and notify other trucking companies through bills of lading and mailed notifications that delivery truck idling is prohibited on Wal-mart property.”
In summary, Wal-mart has agreed to:
- administer anti-idling training to company drivers;
- post “no idling” signs at all of its 4,000 facilities in the U.S.;
- notify its contracted delivery companies of its anti-idling policy;
- spend no less than $100,000 to implement these measures.
As a result of a targeted EPA investigation, EPA inspectors had observed trucks owned and contracted by Wal-mart idling for long periods of time at six different Wal-mart properties in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Connecticut and Massachusetts are two of six states that have anti-idling regs on the books as federally enforceable rules to comply with national clean air laws.
According to EPA, this marks the first multi-state case addressing idling violations.
“There’s a series of documented violations in Wal-mart [facilities] from both states and both states not only have anti-idling restrictions, but have ones cited and incorporated in their state implementation plans [to comply with the federal Clean Air Act],” David Deegan, spokesperson for EPA—New England Office told FleetOwner.
Massachusetts law generally prohibits idling over five minutes, while Connecticut has a three-minute idling restriction in effect.
“This is not the first case involved in the enforcement of the standards,” Deegan continued. “Clearly, engine idling is something we take very seriously. I think it’s definitely accurate to say that, especially in areas where there is a federally enforceable statute dealing with idling, EPA is going to make sure people are complying with the law because there’s a real direct benefit on air quality.”
According to Glen Kedzie, environmental counsel for the American Trucking Assns., the Wal-mart case indicates a more heavy-handed enforcement tactic than usual by EPA.
“I think it’s just a good advertisement to put Wal-mart on the billboard and say that this could happen to you,” Kedzie told FleetOwner. “[EPA] could’ve picked from a wide array of trucking companies to inspect. Typically EPA doesn’t do a SWAT routine in a state. [EPA] could have well put a notice to Wal-mart and Wal-mart would’ve gone to compliance,” he added. “If they had known that idling was going on for some time, then why else did they allow it to go for so long?”
The idling vehicles ranged from delivery trucks in the day and sleepers at night, EPA said. The agency estimates that 7,000 idling trucks in Wal-mart’s fleet idling for one hour per day would burn 2.1 million gallons of diesel fuel per year, create 415 tons of smog-forming pollutants, 10 tons of particulate matter and 23,000 tons of carbon dioxide.
“We’re optimistic that we’ll see quantifiable clean air benefits across the country as Wal-mart drivers are educated as well as non-Wal-mart drivers that are making deliveries to Wal-mart facilities,” said Deegan. “At the end of the day, EPA is there to help people understand what there requirements are so they could comply with them, and not so much penalize for not complying.”
For more information, visit EPA New England’s website at www.epa.gov/region01/pr/2005/nov/dd051101.html.