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Saratoga Springs City Council passes new "anti-idling" law

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Albany/HV: Saratoga Springs City Council passes new "anti-idling" law
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Saratoga Springs has a new ordinance in place to protect the environment. As YNN's Erin Moran reports, the initiative was led by a group of local college students who urged city officials to make the change.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- It's not uncommon to see someone start their car early in the morning to warm it up. Or to see someone leave it running while they run inside the gas station quickly. But if you live in Saratoga Springs, that's now illegal.

Last week, the City Council passed an “anti-idling” ordinance after Skidmore College students lobbied for the change.

“It was something that we could really feel like we were working toward the community's benefit,” said Charlotte Levy, a senior at Skidmore College.

A group of students at Skidmore College created a “Cool Cities Campaign” organization and they’re been working with officials in Saratoga Springs since 2009 to help fight climate change in the city. This "anti-idling" ordinance has been in the works for two years.

“It's something that there was community support for, especially around the racetrack and at schools,” said Stephanie Seidmon, also a senior at Skidmore College.

The group of students felt it was an environmental issue as well as a health issue for the community. Idling a car emits pollutants into the air that can cause serious health problems and many members of the community, including several doctors, were on board.

“It's something that affects children, as well as the elderly, in terms of health effects and it seemed to be one of the easier tasks and one of the first tasks in really establishing climate policy,” said Seidmon.

And while the ordinance does make idling a ticketable offense, there are exceptions in cases of extreme weather, both with hot temperatures and cold ones.

“If there are infants in the car or elderly people in the car, it's important to maintain the climate for those individuals and it's a matter of safety too,” said Christian Mathieson, the Public Safety Commissioner for Saratoga Springs.

City police have already begun enforcing the new code. It's a small measure inspired by students that will perhaps lead to a greener Spa City.

“It's really great to have the input from the people at the college and helping us in terms of how we govern our community,” said Mathieson.

And when asked about the possibility of future initiatives led by Skidmore students that would benefit the city, Seidmon replied, “We're definitely not done. We have a close working relationship with the city and they're definitely on board in terms of mitigating climate change. So yeah, this is really just the beginning.”

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