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Nassau County Legislature

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October 12, 2006

Denenberg and Majority Legislators announce legislation curbing air pollution

Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) has announced environmental legislation aimed at curbing air pollution, preserving the ozone and improving air quality. The law limits the amount of time motor vehicle engines would be allowed to idle in Nassau County. Yesterday, the law was passed through the full legislature and is effective immediately.

Legislator Dave Denenberg views encroachment photos

PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured left to right: Legislator Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick), left, views encroachment photographs taken by Leroy W. Carter from the Nassau County Department of Probation.

"Nassau County can do better when it comes to improving our air quality and protecting the health of our residents,” said Legislator Denenberg, chair of the Planning, Development and Environment Committee and sponsor of the law. “I believe this legislation will bring us closer to that goal, while also serving as a tool to educate our residents.”

The engine idling ordinance prohibits a driver from idling diesel-powered vehicles longer than three minutes while parked, unless the engine is used to operate a loading, unloading or processing device. The law would not affect emergency vehicles, or buses, when the temperature is below 40 degrees.

“Although new engines have become cleaner due to improved emission control technologies, the slow turn over in inventory and the number of miles/hours these vehicles idle each year is hindering progress in improving regional air quality,” Legislator Denenberg said. Vehicle exhaust is a source of carbon monoxide, particulate matter, toxic air contaminants, and greenhouse gases.

Violators of the idling law can be fined up to $500 or receive jail time for the first offense; up to $1000 and jail time for the second; and up to $5000 and jail time for the third subsequent offense.

"Nassau County and other public agencies can play an important role in improving air quality by limiting the amount of time motor vehicle engines are allowed to idle within the county,” said Marcia Bystryn, Executive Director of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

"The United States Environmental Protection Agency has identified 21 chemicals in truck and bus exhaust that are known or suspected to cause cancer, respiratory disease and other serious health effects. Idling of vehicles directly impacts the health of the public and particularly school children,” stated Kasey Jacobs, program coordinator for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “This idling legislation is a common sense, no-cost approach to protecting the health of school children, our environment and saving energy.”

"Just like wasting electricity, needless engine idling is worse than just wasting fuel and money - it literally makes people sick,” said Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island (RELI). “We applaud the efforts of the Nassau County Legislature to reduce air pollution with this piece of legislation.”

"With the eventual implementation of this legislation, Nassau County residents can breathe a little bit easier,” Denenberg said.