Boston- In a continued effort to advance environmentally sound policy, State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) is pleased to announce favorable action on legislation he authored and sponsored with State Representative Stephen R. Canessa (D-Lakeville) aimed at promoting cleaner air quality on school campuses across the Commonwealth.
During its executive session this afternoon, members of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture voted to release S. 2357, An Act to Improve School Campus Air Quality with a favorable recommendation.
“With the recent steps Massachusetts has taken to elevate the practice of energy conservation and sound environmental stewardship, this proposal is a logical and necessary step towards addressing air quality and ensuring cleaner air for our schools and the people who learn and work there. This is a public health measure as much as it is an environmental initiative and I am pleased that it has moved forward today,” said Downing. “I commend the Environment Committee for its swift response and favorable report on this important initiative.”
The legislation was drafted with the intent to promote clean air at Massachusetts schools through the prohibition of engine idling by commercial or personal vehicles parked on school property. While in custody of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture the bill underwent revisions as Downing and Canessa worked with its members to address concerns raised during the public hearing. The legislation released today maintains the original intent of the bill by preserving the engine idling ban on school grounds, while incorporating realistic compromises including redefining “school grounds” as a 100-foot circumference encasing school property rather than the proposed 1,000-foot circumference in order to increase the likelihood of compliance in urban school districts. In order to promote the measure, the legislation also mandates every public or private elementary, vocational and secondary school to post “no idling” signs conspicuously in their loading/unloading zones so that the signs are clearly visible to all motorists who may enter those areas. Approved signs and templates for signage design may be obtained from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and must be posted effective August 1, 2009.
“I am extremely pleased to see this important piece of legislation moving forward,” stated Canessa. “This anti-idling movement will assist in further educating motorists on the negative impacts of unnecessary engine idling, which in turn will help protect our health, safety and environment.”
Downing and Canessa filed the bill in mid-September, quickly attracting the support of 48 legislative co-sponsors. It is expected the legislation will now be referred to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means for further review and consideration.