Massachusetts Sues School Bus Company for Excessive Idling

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts claimed in a complaint on Wednesday that a bus company, Tremblay’s Bus Co. LLC, which specifically services school buses for southeastern Massachusetts, unnecessarily leaves vehicles idling and contributes significantly to pollution on school grounds and in densely populated areas. 

The District of Massachusetts lawsuit alleged that the defendant’s bus drivers “routinely allow their diesel-powered school buses to idle unnecessarily for prolonged periods of time — often for more than twenty minutes.”  Additionally, the state claimed that the diesel exhaust, when inhaled, can cause “cancer, aggravated asthma, lung damage, and other serious health problems and is especially harmful to children.” 

Tremblay’s reportedly has over 250 school buses in operation and over the past 5 years has used them in communities which have been “disproportionately impacted by environmental harms and risks” and were designated as Environmental Justice Communities. The complaint listed the amount of time that buses were left idling on a few days during 2019 at various schools in these areas; the buses were idling for more than 20 minutes in 27 of the 35 instances. 

Through the lawsuit, the state hopes to enforce the Clean Air Act and the Massachusetts Clean Air Act, receive injunctive relief, and impose civil penalties based on the “excessive idling and illegal emissions” at Massachusetts schools. 

In the complaint, the state noted that it sent a notice of the Clean Air Act violations and its intent to file the lawsuit in June. It said it has an interest in the matter because it is protecting its citizens and the Massachusetts general environment and health. “Continuation of the acts and omissions alleged herein will irreparably harm the Commonwealth, for which harm it has no other plain, speedy, or adequate remedy at law,” the complaint said. 

Specifically, the state alleged that the defendant breached requirements of the Massachusetts state implementation plan established through the Environmental Protection Agency, the plaintiff explained that once the plan is approved it becomes enforceable law. It further claimed that the court can impose a $101,439 penalty for each day of violation since November 2015.