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Air Quality

NJ Diesel Truck Owner Chooses Destruction Over Fixing Emissions

A crazy story over at The Drive shows that some people would rather die (or, have their truck die) than do the right thing. But, they’re not going to go down without claiming to be a victim first.

It all started when the man listed his truck for sale online. He made the mistake of telling potential buyers that his truck had a modified exhaust with the emissions equipment deleted. Instead of this serving as a selling point, it ended up serving as a written confession to violating New Jersey state law when New Jersey law enforcement found his post on Facebook Marketplace.

That’s when the letters showed up in the mail demanding that he put the emissions equipment back on his truck’s exhaust or remove the truck from the road. The owner claims that reverting to a stock exhaust configuration would have cost him $10,000, and he couldn’t afford that bill, so he decided to only use the truck for sled-pulling competitions and de-register the vehicle entirely.

But, that wasn’t enough for New Jersey authorities. They gave him 60 days to either revert to stock or send the vehicle to the crusher, and he couldn’t sell the vehicle or even give it away unless it was fixed.

On the surface, this sounds like he was put in a terrible spot by state enforcement agents, but when The Drive contacted them, they had a very different story. While it was true that he had a tight deadline to fix or destroy the truck, he was also told that extensions of the deadline are available if he can’t afford to fix the truck right now, and they are very willing to work with him to keep him from having to destroy his truck.

“Mr. Sebold has informed the Department that he intends to bring his truck to a scrap yard on Sept. 16 and have it destroyed, although the Department has explained to Mr. Sebold on multiple occasions that the Department would extend the 60-day deadline cited in compliance requirements to give him time to make the necessary repairs to the truck and return it to full New Jersey emissions compliance. These repairs would include returning the vehicle to its original certified emission configuration,” a public information officer told The Drive.

I don’t know the full details of the situation, but from what I can see, it appears that the truck’s owner was trying to get the press to pressure government officials into letting him keep his modified truck on the road. State law doesn’t allow the officials to do that, though, so that was always going to be a dead end.

Perhaps by telling automotive news outlets that he was being forced to crush his truck, he was hoping to look like a victim of big government that wouldn’t give him a chance to fix his truck, when in reality they had repeatedly told him they’d give him more time as needed if he chose to fix the truck instead of destroying it.

At the same time, I can understand why the guy would try this. Nobody wants to be told what to do, especially with property that we supposedly own. We’d all like to be the person who starts a movement and gets government to do what we feel is right instead of blindly following some law that we’d rather not put up with.

But, at the same time, nobody has a constitutionally-protected right to stink out their neighbors, roll coal on Teslas, or make obnoxious wannabe semi-truck noises with a truck that’s just a big version of the old “riceboy” cars that used to be popular (complete with similar fake exhaust tips). The guy isn’t being told he’s subhuman for the color of his skin, and he isn’t being told who he can and can’t marry. If he’s a gun owner, the Supreme Court recently even ruled that New Jersey has to give him a permit to carry a gun if he wants one.

In other words, his rights aren’t really being violated here.

To use the gun comparison again, this isn’t like carrying a gun to defend yourself from violent criminals. If you’re a responsible person, you won’t directly harm anybody doing that. Having a truck like that on the road is more like walking around with a gun and firing it off in random directions to get attention. Even the most ardent gun people wouldn’t advocate for a right to do something idiotic and dangerous like that. That’s not even legal in Texas or Arizona.

The harm of these modified trucks isn’t hypothetical or indirect. It’s very direct and real. People die directly from the particulate matter emitted, just not immediately on the scene of the coal rolling. Once again, this isn’t some liberal attack on conservative truck owners. Even Texas will cite a smoking truck and penalize its owner just as they’d go after some fool shooting off a gun randomly.

If anything, this shows us how badly we need more electric trucks on the road. Modified diesel trucks won’t be cool when they’re consistently making a whole lot of noise and smoke just to be bested by the electric truck. Gut out some sound deadening, and you can even make it noisy like a Formula E car, if that’s what floats your boat.

It’s important that we move the industry away from diesel trucks because the cost to other people of operating them just isn’t worth the benefits, especially for trucks that aren’t being used for work. We’re currently stuck with depending on them for moving food and other goods/services, but nobody’s getting their food delivered by some three-quarter ton pickup with big tires and a doofy exhaust.

The argument can’t even be made that these “Ricer XXL” trucks need to be like they are for off-road purposes. Many of them are lifted too much and made too wide to be useful in most off-road scenarios. The big wheels and rubber-band tires do have aggressive off-road tread, but they’d break if you hit a pothole. They’re obviously not intended for off-road use, and you’ll rarely see a speck of mud on them.

I’m all for having fun and enjoying things, even if it’s weird and doofy, and especially when it’s controversial. But, when the cost of one’s enjoyment is everyone else’s air quality (especially right next to it), and the future of our climate, there isn’t room to allow that harm to continue.

Featured image by Andreas Lischka from Pixabay

 
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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to explore the Southwest US with her partner, kids, and animals. Follow her on Twitter for her latest articles and other random things: https://twitter.com/JenniferSensiba

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