NYT ponders the existential questions behind blowing smoke out of your car on purpose

staff photo

Colorado is front and center in the battle over “rolling coal” in a New York Times piece from this weekend.

Less clear whether spewing black smoke from a diesel tailpipe at other people in Colorado is indicative of whether “we seek to minimize the human footprint on the earth, or […] flaunt it?” The fog of war, am I right?

Since rolling coal is mostly for the visual, let this YouTube video refresh you on what the practice looks like with the help of rock and roll:

Anyway, here in Colorado, rolling coal is illegal if you do it for five seconds  or more at a certain opacity, but it seems to be on the rise. NYT notes that “complaints over diesel smoke have risen 5 percent over the last two years.”

Still, an effort from the state legislature to ban the practice altogether failed last year. Plus, it’s hard to enforce anyway, as KUNC’s seminal report on rolling coal indicated:

“As [police officer Joel Tower’s] shift comes to a close, he spies another big black truck with a giant exhaust pipe.

“‘If we followed him around probably for a while longer, we’d probably catch him rolling a little coal later on, looks like he’s primed to do that.’

“Right now though, the truck only revs his engine a little. It’s 10 p.m. and Tower’s shift is over.”

But what about the ideological merits of a practice that is often directed at cyclists and other cars and hazardous to health?

Michelle Minton, a fellow at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, offered the NYT one opinion:

“Coal rollers who use their trucks for harassment, as opposed to celebration, ‘aren’t being rebellious,’ she said, they are just being jerks.”