Department of Homeland Security

Green Vehicle Idling Policy

As a CBP Officer, I’ve noticed that regardless of season, any one driving a DHS vehicle, USBP or CBP, who frequents the office, leave their GOV idling while they visit, often for tens of minutes or even longer. I assume to keep them warm, cool, or at the ready. I’m not aware of any CBP policy that either mandates or prohibits this action. Idling for just 10 minutes uses 27 gallons of gas a year. Multiply this by average GOV idle times and then again by the number of GOVs in the DHS fleet and you can see that instituting an “idling policy” could save millions of dollars in fuel costs alone. Also, the related damage on the vehicles themselves resulting from excessive idling would be reduced significantly. This would result in huge cost savings in reduced vehicle repairs, fleet replacement rates and a 4-5% increase in overall fuel economy. There’s also the negative health impact on employees sitting in, or standing near, idling vehicles for long periods of time. Conditions such as respiratory illness or cancer can affect employee wellbeing, productivity, as well as their long term health. Overall costs savings in reduced sick leave use and to the related expense on our healthcare system should also be considered. Obviously, it is the environmentally responsible thing for DHS to do in order to drastically reduce the Agency’s carbon footprint. Cutting vehicle emissions by prohibiting or limiting idling would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 19 pounds for every gallon of fuel the Agency saves. Fact: Idling is not an effective way to warm up your vehicle in cold weather. The best way to do this is by driving the vehicle. Fact: Excessive idling can actually damage your engine, including cylinders, spark plugs, and exhaust systems. Fact: You are not protected from air pollution inside your vehicle. VOCs and CO2 is much higher inside vehicles than at the road side. They are linked to serious health problems like respiratory infections and cancer.

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Idea No. 17283