Mayor Bloomberg & Speaker Quinn Announce Agreement On Steps to Improve City's Air Quality

Intro 194-A Will Halve the Amount of Sulfur in Heating Oil and Reduce the Most Harmful Pollutants in our Air by More than 16 Percent

New York, NY (July 26, 2010)

  

The City of New York

Office of the Mayor

New York, NY 10007

 

 

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn today announced an agreement on Intro 194-A, legislation that will significantly reduce air pollution, promote the use of alternative fuels, create new “green jobs” and improve the overall air quality in New York City. On Thursday, Intro 194-A will be the first local law passed since the City Council and Administration started working on a legislative strategy to decrease environmental pollutants from New York City’s heating oil. The Mayor and Speaker were joined at the announcement, held at the Metro Fuel biodiesel plant in Brooklyn, by Environmental Protection Committee Chair James Gennaro; Scott T. Santarella, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in New York; Environmental Defense New York Regional Director Andy Darrell; and Metro Fuel President Paul Pullo.

 

“We all know the most cost-effective way to remove pollutants from any fuel is to never burn them in the first place,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “But the reality is that New Yorkers burn more than one billion gallons of heating oil each year.  By changing the type of oil we use, we will reduce pollutants and spend less money on maintaining and operating our heating systems, while simultaneously reducing our dependence on overseas sources of energy. But most importantly, Intro 194-A will complement the City’s PlaNYC initiatives and help us fight asthma, lengthen lifespans and improve the quality-of-life in neighborhoods throughout our city.”

 

“This legislation will literally make us all breathe a little easier,” said Speaker Quinn. “This week the City Council will vote to improve the quality of heating oil used in the thousands of buildings that contribute to nearly 90 percent of soot pollution in our city. By both reducing legal limits of sulfur and introducing renewable energy sources in home heating oil, we will greatly enhance the quality of the air we breathe and create new economic opportunities to foster the biofuel industry in our five boroughs.”

 

Air quality improvements expected from this and other sulfur reduction efforts have the potential to save hundreds of lives each year in the City.

Residual fuel oil burning contributes to the wide variation in air quality across the five boroughs resulting in poorer air quality and increased health risks in areas most affected. These initiatives will have an especially great impact on the air and health of Manhattan and Bronx residents.

 

            Under Intro 194-A, beginning on October 1, 2012, New York City will require the amount of sulfur in Number 4 heating oil to be capped at 1,500 parts per million, reducing the current cap by half.  Burning heating fuels accounts for nearly 14 percent of fine particulate matter pollutants in the air – more pollution comes from this source than from vehicles or power plants. The particulate matter created by heating oil contains heavy metals and other pollutants that damage our lungs and hearts, contribute to asthma and significantly decrease life expectancy.  Intro 194-A also would require that all heating oil used after October 1, 2012 contain at least 2 percent biodiesel fuel.

 

            “Cleaning up dirty heating oil is the single most important step New York City can take to reduce soot pollution quickly,” said Environmental Defense New York Regional Director Andy Darrell.  “Heating oil is responsible for more soot pollution than all cars and trucks combined.”

 

            “The air we breathe is going to be cleaner and healthier thanks to the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn,” said Scott T. Santarella, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in New York. “This legislation will dramatically improve the lives of the more than 1 million New Yorkers who suffer from asthma and struggle to breathe every day.”

 

Intro 194-A, which applies to Number 4 heating oil, will also complement the new State law signed earlier this month by Governor Paterson that reduces the sulfur content in Number 2 heating oil by 99 percent.  Number 2 heating oil accounts for over 70 percent of the heating oil used throughout the City.

 

            “New York City consumes 1 billion gallons of heating oil annually, more than any other city in the United States,” said Environmental Protection Committee Chair James F. Gennaro. “Our legislation will annually replace 20 million gallons of petroleum with an equal volume of renewable, sustainable, domestically produced biodiesel. We are already home to what will be the largest biodiesel processing facility in the country as well as a growing grease collection industry, and we expect to see more and more green collar jobs and green economic growth as a result of our legislation.”

 

New York City has already taken a number of steps to remove pollutants from the air we breathe.  Thirty-five schools are in the process of converting boilers from using Number 4 and Number 6 oil to cleaner fuels – the first of 100 school boilers that will be converted over the next ten years.  The Department of Environmental Protection and the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability are working on a plan that will significantly limit the use of Numbers 4 and 6 heating oils.  And, the New York City Housing Authority has already converted to using Number 2 oil or natural gas in all of its 334 properties.  All of this advances us a long way toward one of the major goals of the city’s sustainability agenda, PlaNYC – having the best air quality of any major city in the nation by the year 2030.

 

“The passage of this legislation will have far-reaching implications for New Yorkers,” said Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway. “Reducing sulfur content and requiring a minimum of 2 percent biodeisel in home heating oil will significantly improve the air we breathe, and DEP will immediately seek public input on rules to implement the new law. Requiring the use of biodiesel will also reduce the amount of grease illegally dumped into our sewer system – one of the primary causes of the 31,000 sewer back-up complaints we received last year. Complex environmental challenges require smart, sustainable solutions, and I’d like to thank the City Council for their continued leadership to improve air quality in New York City.”

 

 

 

Health Department surveys have shown that the greatest concentrations of particulate matter and other pollutants can be found in neighborhoods where a large percentage of buildings burn Numbers 4 and 6 heating oil.

 

“The New York City Community Air Survey, the first of its kind in any American city, found that low-grade heating oil is a leading source of neighborhood air pollution,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “Poor air quality contributes to breathing and health problems, including inflammation of the airways, which can exacerbate lung and heart disease. Cleaner heating oil will help New Yorkers stay healthier and live longer. We at the Health Department applaud these efforts to improve the air we breathe.”

 

Metro Terminal Corporation in Brooklyn is one of the first biodiesel manufacturers blending biodiesel with oil to produce heat and hot water.

 

            “Our biodiesel processing facility, which is expected to come online in early 2011, is creating 60 green collar jobs,” said Paul Pullo, Co-owner Metro Terminals and Metro Biofuels. “We recently partnered with the Doe Fund, a non-profit that will provide us with the grease it collects from New York City restaurants, so we can recycle it into biodiesel and then, in turn, provide it to New Yorkers to heat their homes and buildings.  METRO applauds Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn and Councilman Jim Gennaro, for their smart, environmental leadership and for supporting new legislation that recognizes the powerful role that biodiesel can play in securing New York City’s sustainable future.”

 

“The New York Oil Heating Association which represents over 150 heating oil wholesalers, retailers and other related businesses throughout the five boroughs has long fought for a new standard in heating oil,” said New York Oil Heating Association CEO John Maniscalco.  “Our industry and all New Yorkers won a major victory last week when the Governor signed ultra low sulfur heating oil into law and now, with bioheat – a cleaner, more renewable alternative fuel – we expect to win another major victory on behalf of our industry and our customers who live in the 1 million heating oil households throughout the City.  The heating oil of the past will soon be gone.  Instead, the ultimate standard – ­ an ultra low sulfur biodiesel heating oil, will take its place and truly become a clean, green, value added product that New Yorkers can be proud of.”

 

“As President of the Teamsters Local 553, representing thousands of workers in New York State's heating oil industry, and Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Joint Council 16, I support the passage of Intro number 194, cleaning heating oil used in New York City,” said Demos Demopoulos, President of Teamsters Local 553. “I would like to thank Teamsters Joint Council 16 President George Miranda, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Council Member James Gennaro for their efforts and leadership in this matter. The Teamsters have long been supporters of such legislation, and have been honored to work in conjunction with policy makers and environmental advocates alike to make these reforms a reality.”

“Of the City’s one million buildings, fewer than 4,000 use Number 4 heating oil. By halving the sulfur content in this fuel, which is among the dirtiest used in the city, we can have an immediate impact on the environmental quality of our neighborhoods,” said Adam Freed, Acting Director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. “This, combined with other efforts underway to green heating oils used in the City, will get us closer to achieving our PlaNYC goal of having the cleanest air quality of any big city in America.”

 

 

PlaNYC was launched on Earth Day in April 2007 as a blueprint for achieving the Mayor’s vision for a greener, greater New York. Since then, the City Council and Mayor’s office have developed plans to change the City’s urban environment. New Yorkers interested in learning more about PlaNYC, or how they can reduce their carbon footprint, should visit www.nyc.gov or call 311.

 

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Contact:          Stu Loeser/Jason Post (Mayor)           (212) 788-2958

Jamie McShane (Council)                   (212) 788-7124

 

 Scott Santarella speaks at press conference with Mayor Blooomberg & Speaker Quinn re: heating oil.