Pending court approval, several companies affiliated with National Car Rental will pay a fine of $475,000 for repeated violations of motor vehicle idling regulations at two New England airports, the EPA announced Monday. 

On numerous occasions in 2006 and 2007, EPA investigators observed the shuttle buses that carry passengers from the airport terminal to the rental car locations idling excessively at Logan International in Boston, Mass. and Bradley International near Hartford, Conn. At the time, Vanguard Car Rental USA Inc operated the National Car Rental facilities at Logan and Bradley Airports. 

The current owners and operators of these facilities are Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company of Boston LLC, and CAMRAC LLC. 

Both Massachusetts and Connecticut have clean air regulations which limit motor vehicle idling (to five minutes in Mass. and three minutes in Conn.) with exceptions allowed for vehicles undergoing maintenance, making deliveries or in extreme cold conditions.

"Here in New England, we suffer from disproportionately high asthma rates," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "Diesel pollution is very harmful, especially for sensitive populations such as the young, elderly and people who suffer from asthma. It is critical for the health of the surrounding community that companies like National Car Rental comply with anti-idling laws."

EPA had documented idling violations at Logan Airport dating back to 2002. Since taking over from Vanguard in mid-2007, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and CAMRAC have been taking steps to address excessive idling at the Logan and Bradley facilities, including more management oversight, posting no-idling signs, installing electronic idling controls and retraining drivers.

The Consent Decree, lodged in federal court and requiring approval by the court, requires the companies to continue with anti-idling measures, such as driver training, daily management walk-throughs to monitor idling, maintaining electronic idling controls and posting of no-idling signs.

According to the EPA, diesel engines are the third largest human-made source of fine particles, contributing more than 20 percent of fine particle emissions in New England. Fine particles can cause lung damage and aggravate respiratory conditions, such as asthma and bronchitis. Based upon human and laboratory studies, there is also considerable evidence that diesel exhaust is a likely carcinogen.