Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gennaro Bill Slated to Clean Queens Air by Anna Gustafson - > Queens

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Councilman James Gennaro (l.) speaks at a biodiesel plant in Brooklyn about his bill that is expected to reduce air pollution and create green jobs. Photo courtesy of William Alatriste

A bill sponsored by City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) and slated to pass the Council Thursday is expected to reduce air pollution, promote the use of alternative fuels and create green jobs in the city, Gennaro and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this week.

The legislation, Intro 194-A, will require that buildings burn less No. 4 heating oil — one of the dirtiest types of fuel. Additionally, it mandates that the No. 4 oil will be phased out when buildings need to replace their heating system equipment, which city officials said will help to create environmentally friendly jobs.

“New York City consumes 1 billion gallons of heating oil annually — more than any other city in the United States,” said Gennaro, chairman of the Council Environmental Protection Committee. “Our legislation will annually replace 20 million gallons of petroleum with an equal volume of renewable, sustainable and 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.”

Intro 194-A will require the amount of sulfur in some heating oil to be capped at 1,500 parts per million, reducing the current cap by half. About 9,500 city buildings burn the dirtiest grades of heating oil, Nos. 4 and 6, according to a report by the Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit. The report found that buildings burning Nos. 4 and 6 heating oils release more soot pollution than all cars and trucks on the city’s streets combined.

The pollution created by this heating oil contains heavy metals and other pollutants that damage lungs and hearts, contribute to asthma and decrease life expectancy, city officials noted.

“We all know the most cost-effective way to remove pollutants from any fuel is to never burn them in the first place,” Bloomberg said. “But the reality is that New Yorkers burn more than 1 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.”

Environmental advocates also cheered the bill.

“It’s a great day for the health of all New Yorkers, but especially for children, senior citizens and people with respiratory illnesses who are particularly vulnerable to soot pollution,” said Andy Darrell, New York regional director and deputy director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s national energy program.