Saturday, December 03, 2011

Anti-Idling Mania Spreads To Alaska; Alaska Department Of Transportation Imposes Idling Restrictions Upon Its Vehicles

Anti-idling mania is spreading nationwide. The latest prominent city to fall victim to the craze is Salt Lake City; on October 25th, 2011, the city council passed an anti-idling ordinance that bans idling for more than two minutes in many cases and imposes fines on a sliding scale from $50 to $210. To make it more palatable to the public, the ordinance exempts idling at stop lights and drive-through businesses, and allows for motorists to idle vehicles so they can operate heaters and defrosters when the temperature is below 32 degrees or air conditioning when it's warmer than 90 degrees, which means that residents without garages can still legally warm up their vehicles on cold mornings.

Now it appears that anti-idling mania has spread to Alaska. In a December 1st, 2011 press release, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities announced that it had mandated that all 8-yard dump trucks and tractors with programmable on-board computers be set to a 10-minute idle time. They intend to install these computerized timers on light duty equipment as well. Some exceptions will be made for emergencies or airport ground support. DOT claims this policy will save over $959,000 in a single year, since a typical dump truck burns approximately one gallon of diesel fuel each hour spent idling.

This policy may work for DOT so long as discretion is granted to local supervisors to override the policy during periods of deep cold, when temperatures can plunge far below zero Fahrenheit. But what is disturbing is that environmental extremists may seize upon this policy as an excuse to promote and implement anti-idling ordinances for ordinary Alaskans. To my knowledge, no Alaskan community has yet implemented an anti-idling ordinance, but these environmentalists are skilled at propaganda and are well-funded nationally. We could probably trust the citizens of Fairbanks to shoot down any proposed anti-idling ordinance; in October 2011, they were smart enough to reject Proposition 2, which would have outlawed an entire class of heaters regardless of their impact upon the environment.

But could we trust the residents of the state's largest city, Anchorage, to reject a proposed anti-idling ordinance? Although the Anchorage Assembly has shown no interest in such legislation, and even went in the opposite direction by rescinding the IM emission-testing requirement, Anchorage has become increasingly infested with Californicators and Pacific Northwest greenies who move to Alaska because their locales became oppressive through too many laws, but then turn around and advocate for those same oppressive laws to be passed up here. And if they fail, they don't take No for an answer; they'll come back again and again until the local authorities pass such laws just to shut them up. The proponents of an Anchorage gay antidiscrimination ordinance are currently engaging in such battering ram tactics.

If a state or local agency wants to impose such restrictions upon their vehicles, that's one thing. But to impose such restrictions upon the population in general is unacceptable. No amount of so-called "savings" would justify the intrusion and invasion imposed upon the population, as well as the implied discrimination against those who have no access to garages and must warm up their vehicles on cold mornings before driving. Even if one uses a block heater, a vehicle must be warmed up for at least five minutes before the interior is sufficiently warm to allow someone to drive safely. Besides, cops have enough real work to do without asking them to be idling police as well. Anchorage is not Salt Lake City; we don't have the inversions trapping pollutants close to the ground that Salt Lake has.

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