California to triple idling fine

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Beginning Jan. 1, California will triple its idling fine and prevent registration of trucks with outstanding citations for pollution.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the Healthy Heart and Lung Act, AB 233, into law Oct. 15. It also directs the California Air Resources Board to develop a comprehensive plan to enforce diesel regulations for all vehicles and engines. Diesel particulate matter is responsible for 70 percent of the cancer risk associated with breathing California air pollutants, according to state officials.

The state’s previous minimum civil penalty for violating the state’s five-minute idling law was $100, but beginning Jan. 1 it will be $300. Democrat Assemblyman Dave Jones, the bill’s sponsor, said the new law would bring the penalty in line with other traffic violations.

This law also requires state officials to refuse registration, including the renewal or transfer of registration, if the vehicle has been involved in a violation of air-pollution laws, whether by the owner or an operator, until the violation is cleared.

Every three years, CARB will be required to review the enforcement of diesel emissions regulations and develop a plan for consistent, comprehensive and fair enforcement. CARB must submit its first plan by 2009.

The California Trucking Association supported the bill, including an earlier provision deleted in September that would have barred state registration of pre-1994 trucks.