I have been “Coal Rolled”…..sort of.

Well, it had to happen eventually, I’ve been “coal rolled”…well, sort of.

The photos embedded within the story that follows are sad examples of “coal rolling,” a “practice of intentionally disabling the Clean Burn Programming of a computer controlled diesel engine, and/or installing a “defeat device” similar to the one Volkswagen illegally and secretly developed for millions of its vehicles.  This device illegally allows the vehicle to emit an under-aspirated fuel-rich sooty exhaust that visibly pollutes the air.


Practitioners tamper with their vehicles’ emissions controls in open defiance of environmental regulations that require all gas and diesel powered vehicles to have emission control devices and systems that reduce the amount of pollutants released into the atmosphere. It also may include the intentional removal of the particulate filter. Practitioners often additionally modify their vehicles by installing smoke switches and huge tailpipes and smoke stacks. Modifications to a vehicle to enable rolling coal may cost anywhere from $200 to $5,000…or more.  Rolling coal is a form of conspicuous pollution. Targets of rolling coal often include owners of hybrid vehicles (and now EV’s) as well as bicyclists and pedestrians. (From Wikipedia) 


My story.

A few days ago I was driving my 2012 Nissan Leaf through the small town I call home when I pulled up to a stoplight to wait for it to change. After sitting silently in traffic for a moment I began to hear the unmistakable sound of an idling diesel engine growing louder to the left rear quarter of my Leaf. I glanced in my rearview only to see a large, raised, black, pick up truck with an over-sized tires and a huge chrome exhaust pipe sticking out of the undercarriage in front of the right rear wheel (clearly he must have been compensating for something…). A red alert klaxon Captain James Kirk would be proud of went off in my head: COAL ROLLER! I rolled up the windows and set the climate control on recirculate to keep the inevitable black clouds of diesel soot and ash out of my car’s cabin and out of my lungs. The light changed and I made a split second decision to take action and remove myself from the situation so I dropped out of Eco mode, actuated the accelerator firmly to the deck plate, and was silently, smoothly, and rapidly suctioned into the future leaving the dinosaur-like diesel danger far behind in my clean, statically charged dust while grinning ear to ear the EV grin. I moved silently through traffic for a few moments and was unfortunately stopped behind a slow moving old vehicular construct from the 1970’s and yet another stoplight. A few seconds later the gaudy environmental perpetrator idled up beside me rolling and rumbling slowly forward to get his behemoth of a truck in just the right position to angle his tailpipe in the direction of the front left corner of my Leaf.


We sat there waiting for the light: in one lane a massive, towering, Goliath of a vehicle that Mad Max would have been proud of.  It was idling so roughly that I could see the entire truck vibrate with the controlled internal combustion chaos going on in the climate science and common sense denier modified, oil soaked innards of its massive, Cummings turbo-diesel powerplant. In the other lane I sat, like the proverbial David, in my tiny, silent, futuristic, 100% electric car. When the light changed Mr. Diesel dropped all the ancient dinosaur juice and testosterone he had into his illegally modified, anti-environment, fossil burning, ultra conservative, big wheeled statement and out came…a tiny, rather insignificant, little puff of black smoke. Something had clearly gone wrong with his truck’s coal rolling modifications and with his attempt to drench my Leaf in billowing clouds of black diesel smoke.  I grinned again as he sped away thinking he had made some sort of an anti-green, anti-Obama, anti-environment, anti-EV, statement. From my perspective Mr. Diesel’s childish display of blowing smoke seemed to backfire on him miserably and for that I am forever grateful.  Did he learn a lesson from our encounter…doubtful.


This was my first Coal Rolling experience since owning my Nissan Leaf so I decided that “retaliation” was in order so instead of flying off the handle and doing something as idiotic as the “coal rolling” infant – I did some in depth research on the topic.  According to many articles I have read:  the “Coal Rolling” culture is a juvenile attempt to build up the egos of anti-environmentalists and ultra conservatives who feel that their freedoms are being trodden upon.  Many of them are afraid that new, stricter pollution regulations imposed by the Obama administration may cause them to loose some of their access the ultra consumptive lifestyle they have become accustomed to.


Another possibility is that with more and more people becoming more informed and conscious of the realities and truths of the indisputable scientific facts and findings in support of global climate change being caused by our daily actions, and more aware of their their carbon footprints, and their resulting impacts on the environment and therefore switching to hybrid and electric vehicles, tiny houses, renewable energy sources, and growing their own food–this could be yet another cause for concern for the Coal Rolling crowd.  They see that their “kind”, their “people,” are going the way of the very dinosaurs that power their smoke belching giant wheeled beasts and their childish coal rolling displays are a visible way of rebelling against the inevitable change closing in all around them.  They are like children throwing tantrums because they do not want to grow up and face the facts of life.


Whatever their juvenile reasons behind why they “roll coal,” what they are really doing is celebrating an act of the pre-meditated polluting of everyone’s shared atmosphere. Coal rolling is a blatant disregard for the safety and health of other drivers, pedestrians, and the environment and in every way this practice should be illegal and banned everywhere.

This may happen sooner rather than later as the coal rollers obviously do not think before they roll.  Proof can be found in this article where New Jersey Assemblyman and Leaf driver Tim Eustace was targeted by a Coal Roller and now Eustace aims to work to make it illegal in his state. He has announced a bill that forbids coal rolling.  Read more about it here.  Hopefully it will catch on in other states and coal rolling will fade away forever.


If you drive an EV or Hybrid, bicycle, or are just out for a stroll or run, keep your eyes and ears open for these small minded, backward thinking, environmental scofflaws in their giant trucks because they target not only EV’s, hybrids and other small, fuel efficient vehicles but also pedestrians, officers of the law, and even the elderly. They clearly have serious mental issues and need some serious help.  If you are “coal rolled” try your best to get a description of the vehicle, tag number, and report it to the police. If enough people report this insanity to the authorities, hopefully the perpetrators will slowly become extinct like the dinosaurs they love to burn.

Funnyman Stephen Colbert did a hilarious and revealing commentary on Coal Rolling here: http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/bfvmgh/coal-rolling

Another good article from Slate.com 

From TYT University on Youtube:

If Coal Rollers continue to participate in actions like this individual, then hopefully they will quietly be weeded out of the gene pool by natural selection – and they should all win Darwin Awards for their ignorance.



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