New Rule Will End New York City Use of Worst Heating Oils, Give Big Apple Citizens Dramatically Cleaner Air

April 21, 2011
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NEWS RELEASE

Contact:

Andy Darrell, 917-912-3605,adarrell@edf.org
Isabelle Silverman, 917-445-6385,isilverman@edf.org

(New York City -- April 21, 2011) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) praised an announcement by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today that the city will phase out the use of unrefined oil sludge and the most-polluting grades of heating oil.

"Today's announcement means we'll soon see the end of black smoke belching into Big Apple air," said EDF President Fred Krupp. "This is the single biggest step that New York City can take to make the air we breathe cleaner and healthier."

EDF worked with city officials and other environmental and health groups to help create the changes to the city's boiler permitting regulations. The new rules will phase out local consumption of Nos. 4 and 6 heating oils – the two most polluting grades. Soot from buildings burning those two types of oil are responsible for more than 85% of the heating oil soot emissions in the city – more than all New York City cars and trucks combined.

Buildings can instead use a range of cleaner-burning fuels, including No. 2 heating oil or natural gas. Buildings will have to stop using No. 6 heating oil, which is basically unrefined sludge, by the year 2015. They will also have to gradually phase out No. 4 heating oil by the year 2030. In all, ten thousand city buildings willtransition to cleaner fuel, and will stop burning about 300 million gallons of dirty heating oil each year.

New York City's most innovative leaders are already moving away from dirty heating oil, and are touting the benefits of the upgrade. One example is the iconic Central Park West co-op The Beresford, at the corner of 81st Street.

After an elderly building resident challenged The Beresford's board to develop a green initiative, board members began the process of changing from dirty heating oil to natural gas – without waiting for regulation. To reduce the costs of having the high-pressure natural gas main brought to the building, they persuaded a neighboring pre-war coop -- 15 West 81st Street – to convert to natural gas as well. Both buildings approached Con Ed together, identified city incentive programs, and engaged an engineer and a green energy consultant to help them chart a course to cleaner air.

"The health and business advantages for switching to clean heating fuel are compelling," said John Phufas, the Beresford's vice-president. "Getting neighboring buildings involved not only lowers the cost of converting to natural gas, but also expedites the entire conversion process. We're thrilled that The Beresford and 15 West 81st Street are doing their part for the environment of New York City.

Other local leaders have similar success stories.

"When I learned that our building was on EDF's dirty building list, our Board decided that it made good business sense to convert to natural gas and stop polluting the air we all breathe," said Jerry Cohen, a coop board member at 910 Park Avenue. "This has truly been a win/win."

"Cooper Square Realty is committed to working with our clients to upgrade to cleaner heating fuel as fast as possible," said David Kuperberg, CEO of Cooper Square Realty. "Recently, we converted a 214-unit building in Brooklyn, which resulted in immediate operating cost savings and pollution reduction."

"We are committed to converting two of our No. 6 oil-burning commercial buildings in Manhattan to natural gas by the end of the year," said Jonathan Rosen of United Realty Management Company, Inc. "If necessary, we will first switch to No. 2 heating oil while waiting for Con Edison to bring the gas line. We are planning on converting our entire portfolio of No. 6 oil buildings to No. 2 heating oil or natural gas within the next three years."

Mayor Bloomberg announced the final rule today as part of the updated PlaNYC, a comprehensive citywide plan for a healthier environment.

"Today's PlaNYC update is a blueprint for clean energy in America's biggest city," said Andy Darrell, EDF's New York Regional Director. "It shows how policy reform, individual action and private sector innovation can work together to deliver results for healthy air and climate. It's filled with practical steps we can take at the neighborhood and city scale – and the new heating oil rules are the best example."

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The parties quoted above are all available for interviews with the media. Please contact Isabelle Silverman at 917-445-6385 or isilverman@edf.org to reach them.

The updated PlaNYC can be found at http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/