The Environmental Defense Fund reports that idling vehicles in New York City emit 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports that idling engines burn more than 10 billion gallons of fuel per year nationwide.
Anti-idling advocate George Pakenham, producer of the documentary, Idle Threat, and two NYC council members have initiated an effort to allow concerned citizens to earn thousands of dollars under NYC’s poorly enforced idling law by videotaping vehicles idling illegally. Bill # Int 0717, proposed in March 2015, would allow people to submit video evidence of idling to the city and pocket up to half of the fines imposed on rule-breakers. This could mean hundreds of dollars per fine.
The bill would require the Department of Environmental Protection to set up a page on their website where individuals could submit video of violations of the city’s anti-idling law. For those videos that lead to a civil penalty for the violator, the individual who submitted the video would be entitled to 50% of the civil-penalty amount. It would also raise the fine amounts for a first violation of the City’s anti-idling law by approximately 50%, to a minimum of $350 from $220 and a maximum of $1,500 from $1,000 for second violations within a two-year period. Third violations would be more. Finally, it would require the Department of Environmental Protection to hold training sessions on the requirements for submission of successful complaint regarding the violation of the City’s anti-idling law. The fines would be applicable to double-decker buses idling outside tourist attractions, truck drivers leaving engines running while they make deliveries, and individuals to ban vehicles from sitting idle with engines running for more than three minutes on most streets, and more than one minute in school zones, as well.
Under the proposal, individuals would record vehicles, with license plates visible, idling for more than the allowed time period and submit the footage through the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) website. If the bill moves through the City Council, it could take about a year before it gets signed into law by the mayor.