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    Wawa Cracks Down on Idling Diesel Cars, Trucks

    Business owners subject to fines if motorists violate air pollution laws on property.

    PHILADELPHIA -- Customers who have entered a Wawa convenience store recently may have seen the green signs posted on the doors warning of potential $3,000 fines for leaving diesel cars or trucks idling for longer than three minutes, according to the Burlington County Times.

    The signs are intended to protect Wawa as well as customers’ lungs, since business owners are also subject to fines if motorists violate the state's air pollution laws on their property.

    Pennsylvania environmental officials say the inspections are necessary to improve air quality and protect public health. They admit it is no coincidence that the green signs began popping up at Wawa stores about the same time the department began a statewide enforcement sweep to catch and punish polluters.

    The enforcement action began Aug. 9 and is ongoing, said Erin Phalon, spokeswoman for the state department of environmental protection. It is only directed against diesel-powered motor vehicles, she said, adding that as of Aug. 26, 115 vehicles had been cited statewide.

    State administrative code says diesel-powered vehicles may idle for no more than three minutes unless located at their home base of operation, where they may run for up to 30 minutes.

    Noncommercial drivers are subject to fines ranging from $100 for the first offense to $1,500 for the fourth violation. Commercial drivers and the owners of property where violations occur face stiffer fines -- from $200 for the first offense to as much as $3,000 for the fourth.

    Phalon said the possibility of such fines likely prompted Wawa to post the signs. She said Wawa is the only business she was aware of that has posted warnings. "It's not something we specifically encouraged, but it wouldn't surprise me if other businesses begin doing it," Phalon said. "The reason property owners are fined is so they encourage their clients not to idle on their property."

    She added that signs alone would not relieve businesses of their liability for violations, but she said they could persuade drivers to conform.

    Wawa officials did not return phone calls for comment about the warning signs and state enforcement.

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