Anti-idling campaign targets schools, children’s health

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

The Earth Day Network, the Clean Air Campaign and UPS have launched a campaign that challenges an American tradition – idling your car outside the neighborhood school while waiting to scoop up the munchkins.

The groups are targeting active idlers because the practice needlessly pollutes the air, contributing to global warming and aggravating kids’ respiratory health issues.

Change your idle ways

By Barbara KesslerGreen Right Now

With winter weather at its most aggressive about now, it’s hard not to notice all the idlers in our midst. They’re idling at fast food restaurants, outside offices and schools. You find a business, there’s a car idling outside. Some people take their right to idle pretty seriously. Police cruisers idling while they lie in wait will get no argument from me. Ditto crossing guards, for different reasons.

Watch your winter driving habits

Driving in cold weather? Skip the “warm up.” As points out, an idling engine gets “zero miles per gallon.” (And it’s environmentally uncool.) Also recheck your tire inflation as the season cools; air temperature affects tire inflation and you may be in need of a “fill up.”

Cleaning up school bus emissions

By Catherine Colbert

When David Kilbourne picked up his 8-year-old son from Lake Travis Elementary in spring 2007, he noticed smoke billowing from idling buses parked in queue behind the school. The exhaust fumes his son was breathing each day as he waited to be picked up, he says, were contributing to his son’s migraine headaches. “My son is the quarterback for his youth football team,” said Kilbourne. “Because there’s only one quarterback, when he gets these headaches, it affects the team.”

Kilbourne remembers noticing the bus exhaust during the school’s bus safety week. “They were talking about how buses are safe when it comes to traffic accidents,” he said, “but there’s more to a bus’s safety than traffic accidents, like having air that’s safe to breathe.”

The coincidence spurred Kilbourne to take action. Not only did he write several letters to his local newspaper, but Kilbourne approached the head of his district’s transportation department to discuss air quality in and around its buses. After he spoke to Rick Walterscheid, the transportation director at the Lake Travis Independent School District, the school system put a no-idling policy into effect.

Walterscheid didn’t stop there, either. Later that year the 79th Texas Legislature adopted House Bill 3469, which established and authorized the formation of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to administer a statewide clean school bus program.