NEWSDAY EDITORIAL: State Senate should put lungs over oil-industry profits

(May 8, 2010)

Newsdaylogo

Originally published: May 7, 2010 8:23 PM
Updated: May 10, 2010 12:23 AM

Asthma sufferers can take medicine, but they can't clean the air that's making them sicker. In Albany, though, our lawmakers can remove from the air a major contributor to asthma. They just haven't, and there's really no excuse.

The bill prohibits the sale of high-sulfur heating oil in New York. This oil adds to the ozone and fine particles fouling our air. It also fouls oil burners. Last year, the oil heat industry recommended a transition to ultra low-sulfur fuel by 2011.

Making this switch would make little difference in what you pay for oil, but it would save you money by making your oil burner more efficient. And it would help you breathe better. So, if the folks who deliver your heating oil favor this change, what's the problem? A few refiners. They'd have to alter their operations slightly and lose a bit of profit.

Still, the Assembly has passed a bill sponsored by Assemb. Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee, who's concerned about our poor air quality. A new report by the American Lung Association in New York underlines the need for cleaner air.

The Senate has moved a bill sponsored by Sen. Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan) to the floor. But on several occasions, Perkins has pulled it back, without bringing it to a vote. It's time for Perkins to be less timid, demand an up-or-down vote on the bill, and let all of us see which senators worry more about refiners' profits than citizens' lungs.