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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Idling law in effect in Houston; San Antonio proposes five-minute limit

In collaboration with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Alamo Area Council of Governments, San Antonio is working on a proposal that will limit vehicles weighing 14,000 pounds or more to idling for no more than five minutes, while Houston’s idling law is now in effect.

If passed, exemptions will include:

Vehicles with 2008 or newer heavy-duty diesel, liquefied natural gas, or compressed natural gas engines certified by EPA or state agency to emit less than 30 grams of nitrogen oxide per hour of idling;
Vehicles with a sleeper berth, only during a government-mandated rest period;
Stopped traffic;
Motor run as power source for mechanical operations;
Idling during maintenance/diagnostics;
Defrosting a windshield.

In San Antonio, the anti-idling ordinance is tentative for City Council consideration on Thursday, June 30.

Passed this past November, trucks weighing more than 14,000 pounds are now prohibited from idling for more than five minutes in Houston, according to Ordinance 2015-1086.

Trucks equipped with a 2008 or later model year heavy-duty diesel engine or liquefied or compressed natural gas engine certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or state environmental agency that emits no more than 30 grams of nitrogen oxide emissions per hour when idling are exempt.

Other exemptions include:

Trucks motionless because of traffic;
Engine providing power necessary for mechanical operation, other than propulsion, and/or passenger compartment heating, or air conditioning;
The primary propulsion engine of a motor vehicle being operated for maintenance or diagnostic purposes;
The primary propulsion engine of a motor vehicle being operated solely to defrost a windshield;
The motor vehicle when idling is necessary to power a heater or air conditioner while a driver is using the vehicle’s sleeper berth for a government-mandated rest period and is not within two miles of a facility offering external heating and air conditioning connections at a time when those connections are available.
Each violation in Houston is punishable by a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000. Each day the violation occurs will be considered a separate offence.

Both the proposed ordinance in San Antonio and the Houston ordinance are similar to the Memorandum of Agreement with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality signed by cities and counties in North Central and Central Texas.