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Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

House Committee Endorses Idling Ban

Vermont is the last state in New England without a law that prohibits excessive car and truck idling.

But legislation recommended by a House committee on Friday could soon mean fines for Vermont motorists who leave their cars running for more than five minutes.

Motor vehicles are the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases in Vermont.

And smoke emitted from exhaust pipes also causes air-quality problems that contribute to asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz says Vermont could curb those emissions with an idling ban. If the Legislature doesn't act, the agency is prepared to create an idling ban on its own.

Representative Pat Brennan is chairman of the House Transportation Committee. He says he wants to pass a law before the administration imposes a rule so lawmakers maintain control.

His committee passed a bill that includes the prohibition. Motorists caught idling for more than five minutes would get a $10 fine for the first offense, and a $50 fine if they get caught a second time.

But the bill has a slew of exemptions that Brennan says will prevent the law from having any negative effects on the trucking industry.