How To Get Rich Reporting On Idling Vehicles In NYC (HBO)

Thanks to a new law, any New Yorker with a cell phone and some time to kill can report on idling commercial vehicles, and earn thousands of dollars doing it.

The law, enacted in January of 2018, lets anyone submit a complaint form to the city’s department of environmental protection if they document a bus, truck, or van with its engine on for at least three minutes. If the complaint goes through, whoever reported the idler gets a 25 percent cut of the fine, which can run anywhere from $300 to $2,000, for repeat offenders.

George Pakenham, a banker and clean air activist, knows that anti-idling laws have been on the books since the 1970s but were rarely enforced. He’s spent the last 10 years strolling through the city, asking drivers to turn off their engines. Now, with last year’s amendment to the law that lets anyone help to enforce it, he’s taken to the streets — and he’s making bank.

“I’ve submitted 120 times and I got paid nine thousand dollars,” Pakenham said. “Cash in the bank.”

He’s been a one-man, anti-emissions cop since 2006, when he first asked a limousine driver to turn off their idling engine. He’s even made a documentary, “Idle Threat: A Man on Emission” which chronicled his efforts. And what began as one man’s quixotic mission to curb idling has gained steam: He’s got a dozen “street agents” who work with him on it now, and he hopes that with increased exposure — and the prospect of some decent cash rewards — that he’ll have hundreds of people working with him on it.

Of course the extra cash is a nice perk for Pakenham, but it’s not the reason he got into it in the first place.

“I was influenced by the aftermath of the Iraqi war,” Pakenham told VICE News. “It was quite clear that our motivation wasn’t for weapons of mass destruction it was really for oil. And just at the same time my brother came down with stage four lung cancer and he was not a smoker. So I was looking for some sort of relief from that pain.”

There are also significant public health risks to air pollution from vehicle exhaust, which Pakenham and his “street agents” are acutely aware of. As newly initiated street agent and German pediatrician Patrick Schnell puts it, “air pollution significantly affects children … it doesn’t only cause asthma, COPD and lung cancer but also causes heart attacks, strokes in adults.” And the climate impacts are significant, too. According to a 2009 Environmental Defense Fund study, idling vehicles in New York City release 130,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

If it were up to Pakenham and Schnell, thousands of cantankerous New Yorkers would be patrolling the streets, issuing tickets. But as Schnell puts it: “It’s not about writing tickets issuing tickets, having court it dates, no its about people stopping idling.”

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48 thoughts on “How To Get Rich Reporting On Idling Vehicles In NYC (HBO)

  1. Thanks you sir! You are my hero!

    1) let's keep the noise (and pollution) moving along in the streets and not looming in the parking lots.
    2) vehicles are meant for transporting us from point A to point B, not just to be left idling.

    Example: we are trying to eat outdoors at the cafe or restaurant, or we want the windows open in the appartment, and someone is just sitting in their car unnecessarily idling right there in the parking lot creating lots of noise, and drying out our air (making it harder to metabolize our food, relax, conversate etc).

    One day per week (minimum) we should try to leave our cars parked at home and walk into town instead. (That isn't possible for everyone, but most people live within 2 miles of a restaurant, cafe, or store).

    Again thank you for posting this, and for doing what it is that you are doing.

  2. Its about profiting from the exploitation of ones brother since they give part of the stolen money to them. Surprised they havent done this with other ticketable laws but sad people will turn on their neighbirs all for 60-80$.
    You want to fight pollution, great, but actually try something that has a lasting impact. Theres about a dozen corporations and entities that make up over 50% of pollution. Go after those, not some poor guy trying to feed his family.

  3. I recorded a Police officer a Sherriff Officer today at around 2pm with his Patrol car idling for 8 hours in the same damn spot but blames it on the Battery if they don't the Battery will shut down WTF oh come on they need a new damn car if that is the case because they got some horrible Batteries if that is the case. I don't believe it for a second…

  4. Modern diesels use a particulate filter and use diesel exhaust fluid to clean up the emissions. It's been proven modern diesels produce less pollution than some cars.

  5. These are not the heroes that Gotham deserves, and they are definitely not the ones it need right now… This seems like the plot of a bad vigilante movie 😂😂🤣… Grumpy Old Men reporting People

  6. Boy, I could go to meetings and spend my days filming trucks and make tens of dollars a week for my trouble! Thanks NYC! Now I have a job! Maybe I’ll start protesting for a $15 min wage while I’m at it. Double dip on the pay! I deserve this.

  7. I wonder if I can make any money off of the Missoula Montana police department they leave their police cars idling for half an hour an hour while they're in cafes restaurants coffee shops are eating lunch taking a coffee break for half an hour an hour to 3 hours in there while the doors locked on their patrol car and the car is idling wasting taxpayer money having their vehicle idling I'm going to make money off of the police 2 cars

  8. Leave it to a libtard state like ny to pass a law like this slowly turning the United States into a socialist communist s hole I think we should just give them one state and let them slowly destroy themselves to prove that over regulating every little thing is a terrible idea if you own the vehicle and pay for the fuel this is America and you can do whatever you want I’m all for preserving the environment but this is far from the answer!

  9. That law should apply to all vehicles, not just trucks and buses. If only it applied everywhere, I'd like to report people in the UK (although the fine is a measly £20).

  10. That guy seriously needs to get his ass kicked. I would laugh if he was beaten into a coma. If you're really concerned about the environment, become a vegetarian. Eating meat is so much worse for the environment then motor vehicles. You can tell he just enjoys being petty and bullying people on the job.

  11. What a jerk. So you rather have cars parked in the middle of the street.How about you lobby for more free parking or loading spaces. He thinks he is part of the solution, when he’s not!

  12. What a joke , you have a whole continent full of cars , New York is huge and packed like a box full of ants . The damage is done and this whole bullshit is just another excuse of a law to steal your money and circulate them , the deed was done , even if all the trucks would respect the law your cities would still be freaking poisoned anyway !

  13. I like to warm my engine up if it’s cold outside. You need to let the metal grow. I mean you don’t have to but your pistons will defiantly thank you 🙏

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