Legislation Passed: Tackling the Environmental Harm and Air Pollution Caused By Heating Oils

The New York City Council recently passed a bill on NYLCV’s 2015 Environmental Scorecard! The bill, passed this Wednesday (09/28), mandates the gradual inclusion of a biodiesel into heating oil in NYC. The New York City Council passed Bill 0642-A by an incredible 47 to 3 vote. This biodiesel bill rose the current standard of the biodiesel blend in the heating oil of buildings from 2% to a blend of 20%. Specifically, Intro-642 requires that building heating oil in NYC be made up of 5% biodiesel in 2017, 10% by 2025, 15% by 2030, and 20% after 2034. The use of cleaner fuels to heat NYC’s buildings will measurably improve the air New Yorkers breathe. The legislation also helps to reduce the practice of burning heating oil numbers 4 and 6, which have caused public health problems including respiratory diseases like asthma.

This bill has an extraordinary impact on improving the environment. The initial increase of the biodiesel fuel blend from 2% to 5% has the environmental equivalent to taking 45,000 cars off the road. The final increase of improving the blend to 20% biofuel has the environmental equivalent to taking 300,000 cars off the road, because the use of biodiesel reduces the fossil fuel content of heating oil. According to the Community Air Survey, the largest ongoing urban air monitoring program of any city, a key factor in recent air quality improvements has been related to the use of cleaner heating oil. The energy used to heat, power, and cool NYC’s buildings accounts for more than half of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, and this legislation helps promote a sustainable way to eliminate those toxic emissions. New Yorkers burn more than 1 billion gallons of heating oil every year, accounting for nearly 14% of fine particulate matter pollutants in the air.

The Bill has numerous benefits that are not solely related to improving the environment. There is no new added cost to homeowners because biodiesel has been proven to be cheaper than conventional heating oil. In fact, biodiesel has been cheaper than conventional heating oil by an average of 21 cents per gallon. Importantly, the Bill would help reduce unemployment by allowing for more green jobs to circulate into the economy because the biofuel industry supports and promotes thousands of jobs.

Earlier in 2016, Mayor De Blasio included the creation of cleaner heating oil as a key part of the OneNYC initiative towards creating a more eco-friendly city. Intro-0642-A helps put NYC on the right path towards achieving its goal of having the cleanest air amongst any large U.S. city by 2030. This bill helps lower emissions and improve air quality while simultaneously helping the Mayor achieve his goals to ensure a more sustainable New York. The council members responsible for this Bill are helping to create more green, and energy efficient, buildings for the deserving residents of New York City.