Measure Would Prevent Damage to Environment, Safeguard Public Health & Safety
Legislation Assemblyman Tim Eustace sponsored to prohibit owners of certain vehicles from tampering with their diesel engines in order to produce massive emissions of noxious fumes gained final legislative approval from the Assembly on Monday.
The measure now heads to the governor’s desk.
The bill (A-3583) would prohibit coal rolling, or the practice of intentionally polluting the environment by forcing large diesel-powered vehicles to expel plumes of dense smoke, soot or other particulate emissions into the air or onto roadways or nearby automobiles. The measure would also prohibit individuals from tampering with engine control systems or installing smoke stacks or other equipment that facilitates coal rolling.
Often acting in blatant defiance of regulations intended to protect the environment and slow climate change, coal rollers alter their vehicles’ engines, eliminating internal emissions controls, Eustace said.
“Coal rolling increases air pollution in New Jersey and creates unsafe driving conditions on New Jersey’s already congested roadways,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “By banning coal rolling, this legislation will build upon a history of environmental protection in our state.”
Eustace noted that some drivers of diesel vehicles engage in coal rolling as a means of harassing pedestrians, bicyclists or drivers of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, which he experienced personally last year while traveling on the New Jersey Turnpike.
“In addition to the dangers coal rolling poses by obstructing drivers’ vision and damaging the environment, there are very serious health hazards associated with this practice,” said Eustace. “Truck owners can outfit their personal vehicles however they would like, but when there’s a correlation between their furnishings and illnesses like asthma, lung cancer and heart disease, it becomes a matter not of personal preference, but of public health and safety.”
Violators of the measure would be subject to a maximum civil penalty of $5,000 per offense.
The bill, which in December gained unanimous Senate approval, passed in the Assembly 70-2.