Cyclists, pedestrians and outdoor dining enthusiasts, breathe easier! A bill to stamp out the practice of “rolling coal,” when a driver of a diesel truck deliberately revs up exhaust to blow black smoke, is on its way to the governor.
What a long, strange trip it’s been.
Democratic Rep. Joann Ginal of Fort Collins has been pushing for a ban on “rolling coal” for the last two legislative session. Both her bills died in the Senate, in 2016 and in early March of this year.
But Ginal, along with Sen. Don Coram, a Montrose Republican, didn’t give up, and decided to take another version out for a spin. Three weeks after the first bill died, Coram took the lead on introducing a new version that would soothe the concerns of his Republican colleagues.
The latest proposal eliminated language saying that those who “roll-coal” intend to harass or obscure the vision of cyclists, pedestrians and other drivers. Republicans have raised concerns in the past about proving intent. Supporters have pointed out that in order to blow that black smoke, exhaust equipment in diesel vehicles must be illegally, and intentionally, modified.
With the intentional harassment issue cleaned up, the bill picked up a critical third vote in the Senate Transportation Committee, from Sen. Ray Scott of Grand Junction, who had voted against the bill last year. The bill makes rolling coal a class A traffic offense with a $100 fine.
The measure blew through the Senate with support from all of the Senate’s 17 Democrats and five Republicans, and won similar bipartisan support in the House, with a final vote of 40 to 25 on Tuesday.
Theresa Conley of Conservation Colorado cheered the passage, calling it “a significant win for public health and the environment.” Rolling coal is a nuisance that intends only to harm and irritate other people, she said, and also pointed out that Colorado is just the second state in the nation to ban rolling coal.
The measure now heads to the governor for signing.
Feature photo from YouTube video, courtesy Diesel Truck Authority