Ryan and Rivera Urge DEC to Fully Enforce Truck Idling Regulations at the Peace Bridge

Lack of DEC enforcement has led to numerous problems on Buffalo’s West Side – Ryan and Rivera urge DEC’s Martens to enforce the law
Ryan and Rivera: DEC needs to step up to the plate to improve the health of West Side residents
June 6, 2012

Buffalo – Today, Tuesday June 12, 2012, New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan and Buffalo Common Council Member David Rivera called on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to properly enforce truck idling regulations at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo. In a letter to DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens, Ryan and Rivera urged the DEC to follow through with the law and actually put the mechanisms in place to enforce truck idling regulations that have long been on the books, but not properly enforced. According to DEC heave duty vehicle idling regulations, diesel trucks and buses are prohibited from idling for more than five minutes at a time. The only exemptions to this rule are if the vehicle is stuck in traffic, idling for maintenance purposes, powering an auxiliary function or apparatus, such as a concrete tumbler, involved in an emergency situation, or a diesel fueled truck operating in an ambient air temperature below 25°F for more than 2 hours. The diesel idling regulation is found in Title 6 NYCRR, Subpart 217-3 and is supposed to be enforced by DEC Conservation Officers. A person may be fined anywhere from $500 to $18,000 in the case of a first violation. Over 4000 trucks cross the Peace Bridge every day, and emissions from those trucks have an adverse affect on the health of Buffalo’s west side residents. Numerous studies have shown that the west side has sky-high asthma rates, and the obvious link between respiratory illness among west side residents and their close proximity to idling trucks cannot be ignored. Ryan and Rivera are urging the DEC to simply enforce the law to prevent long truck idling times from continuing to pollute the air of Buffalo’s west side. Ryan and Rivera have previously called on the DEC to install air monitors in Buffalo’s west side neighborhoods to establish baseline emissions information which could be used to better improve the health of those living in west side neighborhoods. “There is no reason that the DEC cannot simply enforce the law and ensure that trucks are not idling at the Peace Bridge,” said Assemblyman Ryan. “The link between respiratory illness among west side residents and their close proximity to thousands of idling trucks cannot be ignored. Simply enforcing the regulation will greatly improve the lives of those living on the west side, and help to send a signal that the DEC takes truck idling seriously, and will not hesitate to fine those who violate the law.” “Together with the Peace Bridge Authority, the DEC needs to help create a strong culture of anti-idling at the bridge crossing. I believe that this culture can only be developed if there are consequences for breaking the law, such as citations,” Rivera explained. “What may amount to a small inconvenience for individual truckers waiting to cross the bridge could mean a lifetime of cleaner air and better health for our city.” A copy of Assemblyman Ryan and Common Council Member Rivera’s letter appears below. For more information please contact Assemblyman Ryan’s Buffalo office at 716.885.9630, or Common Council Member Rivera’s office at 716.851.5125. Joseph Martens
Commissioner
New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, New York 12233 Dear Mr. Martens: We write today concerning the Department of Environmental Conservation’s lack of enforcement of diesel truck idling regulations at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo. We urge you to fully enforce these regulations in an effort to hold those who violate the law accountable, and to improve the health of residents living on the west side of Buffalo. Numerous studies over the years have confirmed that there is indeed a health crisis among those who live on the west side of Buffalo. These residents close proximity to the 4000 diesel trucks that cross the border daily has greatly contributed to the poor health and sky-high asthma rates found in these neighborhoods. One of the biggest drivers of this long-standing problem is the occurrence of trucks idling at the Peace Bridge plaza. DEC regulations state that diesel trucks and buses can idle for no longer than 5 minutes, something that occurs far too often, and for too long has not seen fully functioning enforcement. To help improve the health of west side residents, we have also asked that your department work to install air monitors in the neighborhoods in question. Sadly, our request and similar demands by others have gone unanswered. Again, we urge the DEC to fully commit to enforcing diesel truck idling regulations at the Peace Bridge by putting the proper number of DEC conservation officers into place. Doing something as simple as enforcing this common sense regulation will go a long way in improving the health of Buffalo’s west side residents. We look forward to hearing from you on this important issue. Sincerely, Sean M. Ryan
Member of Assembly David A. Rivera
Buffalo Common Council