Tuesday, September 06, 2016

'Rolling coal' drivers called a public nuisance, as complaints of trucks spewing black exhaust rise

'Rolling coal' began as entertainment at truck shows and pulls.
(New York Times photo by Davis Kasnic)
"Rolling coal" truckers, which we reported on more than two years ago, are becoming a public nuisance in some states, as complaints rise and officials seek to enact laws to ban the practice, Hiroko Tabuchi reports for The New York Times. Coal rollers are diesel-truck owners who spend thousands of dollars to alter their rides to produce ever greater amounts of smoke as a form of political protest. Often, they emit the smoke in the direction of eco-friendly cars, cyclists or pedestrians.

New Jersey last year became the first state to ban rolling coal, imposing a fine of up to $5,000 on drivers caught doing it, Tabuchi writes. Illinois is considering a similar law, but proposed bans were defeated in Colorado and Maryland. "In Colorado, complaints over diesel smoke have risen 5 percent over the last two years. In California, complaints about smoking vehicles to the California Air Resources Board have jumped from under 700 a month, on average, two years ago to more than 1,000 now."

Those who participate in rolling coal call attempts to ban it "the worst of government overreach and environmental activism," Tabuchi writes. Rolling coal was thought to have originated at truck pulls to entertain crowds as harmless entertainment. But some drivers use rolling smoke on the streets, where they spew black columns of smoke that can make it difficult for other drivers to see the road.

It's easy to convert a truck for rolling coal; kits are available online, Tabuchi writes. "Anyone who tampers with emissions-control equipment violates the Clean Air Act, which prohibits the selling or installing of any component intended to bypass emissions equipment and carries penalties of up to $2,500." But most states lack laws making rolling smoke illegal, Tabuchi reports.

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