Time to end ‘rolling coal’

State Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, has signed on as a Republican sponsor of a bill to outlaw the practice of “rolling coal” by diesel pickup trucks.

As the sole Republican senator to support the bill, his vote is particularly important to the success of this important legislation as a bipartisan effort.

Nuisance drivers modify their exhaust systems to emit a column of heavy, noxious black smoke as they pull away from traffic signals, forcing nearby drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to breathe their pollution.

Priuses in particular seem a target for these bullies who harass their drivers to show their contempt for any form of environmental sensitivity, but no car driver is immune from this form of vehicular harassment.

Formally known as the Prohibit Nuisance Exhibition Motor Vehicle Exhaust Act, if the bill passes it will enable law enforcement officials to fine drivers who intentionally spew exhaust fumes in such a way as to obstruct another person’s vision, create a safety hazard or operate a vehicle in a manner that harasses other drivers or pedestrians. Violation of the law would be punishable by a $100 fine. It would also add two offense points to the driver’s license.

Under the law, only drivers who have modified their trucks for the purpose of producing rolling coal smoke would be subject to the penalty. Vehicles that emit smoke from other causes would not be affected, including trucks emitting smoke traveling uphill with a heavy load.

Characterized by anti-rolling coal critics on website Vocativ as “pollution porn,” Elizabeth Kulze wrote in 2014 that an entire subculture has emerged on the internet surrounding this soot-spewing pastime — where self-described “rednecks” gather on websites like Facebook, Tumbler and Instagram to post photos and videos of their trucks deliberately “poisoning the sky.”

As one of their memes brags, “Roll, roll, rollin’ coal, let the hybrid see. A big black cloud. Exhaust that’s loud. Watch the city boy flee.”

Apparently these rolling coal drivers are trying to demonstrate their questionable manhood through the amount of pollution they produce and the number of small car drivers they can intimidate with their smoke.

In support of her proposed legislation, the bill’s author, Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, said, “This bill gives police a tool to deal with the growing trend of intentionally blowing thick clouds of black smoke to harass pedestrians and other drivers.”

Last year the anti-rolling coal bill passed the Democratic-controlled house, but died in the Senate on a party line vote. With the support of Republican Coram, the bill may stand a better chance this year.

This session, Ginal’s bill passed the House on a party line vote 37-27, but it now faces an uncertain future in the Senate where the Democrats hold 18 seats and the Republicans 17. The bill has been assigned to the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee and is scheduled to be hear today. Often referred to as a “kill committee,” bills assigned to this committee often die there.

With the number of trucks modified to blow smoke seeming on the increase, it is time for the Senate to act on this issue and pass the House bill to outlaw tampering with pollution reducing devices on pickup trucks.

Our health and safety demand prompt passage of this important bill.

Bill Grant lives in Grand Junction. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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