Today’s news:

Liu calls for stricter idling truck probes

City Councilman John Liu (D−Flushing) joined the state Department of Environmental Conservation last week in Flushing in ramping up efforts to curtail emissions from diesel trucks as part of a citywide campaign to reduce air pollution.

“Outdoor air pollution, from local sources as well as from distant and regional sources, causes or aggravates a host of health effects. One of the major sources of air pollution, and a significant contributor to health risks in urban areas, is the emission of diesel trucks,” said Robert Emmet Hernan, senior counsel for the DEC. “Risks associated with diesel emissions include early death, respiratory problems, heart attacks, premature and reduced birth weight, and cancer.”

Liu was on hand as officers from the DEC randomly pulled over dozens of diesel trucks along College Point Boulevard last week, and said clamping down on dangerous emissions is essential for the future health of Queens’ communities.

“We commend NYSDEC for proactively working to ensure the quality of our air, especially in a growing area with many young families — near the Queens Botanical Garden and Flushing Meadows Corona Park — by enforcing existing laws that require truck owners to properly maintain their vehicles and limit the amount of pollution they emit,” he said.

Liu recently authored legislation that makes it illegal to idle a vehicle engine in front of school for more than one minute. The bill was signed into law by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Feb. 10 and will go into effect this May.

Liu said the measures are aimed at reducing the prevalence of childhood asthma in the city, which in the five boroughs is nearly twice the rate of the national average, according to the city Health Department.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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