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Illinois Truckers To Fight Emissions Law

August 05, 1999

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The Illinois Transportation Assn. is planning to file a lawsuit against the state's new truck emissions testing law that goes into effect next year.

The law, passed in May and signed by the governor July 23, requires annual emissions testing of trucks over 16,000 pounds in EPA non-attainment areas, including Chicago and areas near St. Louis. Standards for truck emissions testing have been in place for seven years, but the state Pollution Control Board did not have the authority to enforce them. Cars and light trucks were already required to undergo testing.
Illinois Transportation Assn. Executive Director Fred Serpe has asked the American Trucking Assns.' litigation center for help in contesting Public Act 91-0254.
The legislature all but ignored his group's recommendations, Serpe says. "The trucking industry in Illinois was never against diesel emissions testing for older, non-maintained vehicles that do actually pollute the air," he says. The association had lobbied for a bill that would test trucks 10 years and older with non-electronic engines. Instead, the new law includes all trucks two years and older over 16,000 pounds.
That 16,000 pounds is the source of one of Serpe's major complaints about the new law. He says that the widely accepted "snap-idle" test that is specified in the legislation is geared toward heavy trucks - 26,000 pounds and above. "Engine manufacturers state clearly that there is medium-duty equipment out there manufactured without governors, so when you bring in a medium duty truck without a governor and put the snap idle acceleration test on it, the engine could blow up!"
Another problem is that unlike the testing for cars and light trucks, which are tested for free, commercial truck owners will have to pay for the tests.
In addition, he says, the law won't solve the pollution problems. The legislation affects trucks registered with an address in the non-attainment counties. That means trucks that are registered in the area but hardly run in the area will have to undergo testing. Yet trucks based outside the Chicago area, which won't have to undergo testing, could run in the city and pollute at will.

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