(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Tim Eustace to make the hazardous practice of “coal rolling” illegal in New Jersey was approved Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-3583) would prohibit “coal rolling”, which is the practice of intentionally releasing thick, black diesel smoke and soot from smokestacks on specially retrofitted diesel-powered trucks.
According to media reports, the growing trend has become a form of protest against President Obama and EPA clean air regulations. Many drivers of hybrid vehicles have been targeted on the road.
“There is no other purpose to reconfiguring these vehicles than to emit greater quantities of smoke and soot, which are hazardous to the environment and public health and create unsafe driving conditions,” said Eustace (D-Bergen), who proposed the bill after pick-up truck blew smoke at his electric car while he was driving on the turnpike. “Motorists have enough to worry about while on the road. The last thing they need to deal with is large clouds of black smoke that can hamper visibility and lead to accidents. Coal rolling is irresponsible, it is dangerous and it has no place on our roadways.”
The bill would specifically prohibit, and establish penalties for (1) retrofitting any diesel-powered vehicle with any device, smoke stack, or other equipment which enhances the vehicle’s capacity to emit soot, smoke, or other particulate emissions; and (2) purposely releasing significant quantities of soot, smoke, or other particulate emissions into the air and onto roadways and other vehicles while operating the vehicle. The bill would take effect immediately.
“Aside from the potentially dangerous conditions it creates on our already congested roadways, the impact that these emissions have on the body are alarming. The fact that people are spending good money to alter their vehicles to do this, given the multiple risks, is just shameful,” added Eustace.
According to the Clean Air Taskforce, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing atmospheric pollution, diesel exhaust is one of the nation’s most pervasive sources of toxic air pollution, emitting pollutants that lead to 21,000 premature deaths each year and create a cancer risk that is seven times greater than the combined risk of all other air toxics tracked by the EPA. A study by the same group estimated diesel leads to 27,000 heart attacks and 400,000 asthma attacks each year.
The bill was released by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.