Feds crack down on ‘rolling coal’ — a troll-tastic pastime of some Trump supporters
A man sits in his truck in the parking lot of the International Exposition Center prior to a campaign stop by then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on October 22, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. Justin Merriman/Getty Images

The federal government is going after “rolling coal,” the noxious obnoxiousness favored by certain supporters of fossil fuel-loving presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Rolling coal is the illegal manipulation of emission controls allowing a diesel engine to emit thick bursts of black soot. During the Trump presidency, it became a means of harassing protesters and drivers of clean-energy cars, and generally expressing disdain for liberals.

Online videos celebrate rolling coal, but practitioners are getting a comeuppance.

Twice this month, operations with names such as Gorilla Performance and Sinister Diesel pleaded guilty in federal court to Conspiracy to Violate the Clean Air Act and agreed to $1 million fines each, according to federal records reviewed by Raw Story.

The Environmental Protection Agency has made it a “national priority” to erase what it says is “a significant contributor to air pollution.” A 2020 EPA report said 15 percent of diesel trucks in the U.S. are rigged to “delete” emissions controls.

According to government estimates, the practice can increase nitrogen oxide emissions as much as 310 times, non-methane hydrocarbons 1,400 times, and carbon monoxide 120 times.

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The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this week, Gorilla Performance and GDP Tuning, as well as Barry Pierce, owner of the companies, pleaded guilty in Pocatello, Idaho, to conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act by tampering with the emissions control system of a diesel truck.

They agreed to pay $1 million in fines. Sentencing Nov. 8 is at the discretion of the judge, who will take into account federal sentencing guidelines.

“The defendants in this case purposefully violated laws that protect air quality and the overall quality of life for Idahoans, especially vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly and those who suffer from respiratory conditions,” said Josh Hurwit, U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho. “My office will continue to partner with law enforcement agencies to prosecute those who seek illegal profits at the expense of the public’s health and our shared environment.”

Earlier this month, Sinister Diesel of California pleaded guilty to the same charge and agreed to $1 million in fines. Sentencing is Nov. 14.

“Businesses that manufacture and sell illegal devices to defeat a vehicle’s emissions controls foster pollution and risk decades of progress in curtailing harmful emissions from motor vehicles in this country,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.