City Council Approves Bill To Curb Diesel Emissions

December 15, 2003

(15 December 2003 — New York)  Environmental Defense called today’s City Council unanimous vote to approve 191A a groundbreaking action and a tremendous step forward for healthy air in New York City.

“Today, New York is one step closer to being a national leader in the fight against urban asthma,” said Andy Darrell, director of the Living Cities program at Environmental Defense.  “With this bill, New York City will be the first major American city to make a comprehensive commitment to require advanced retrofits and ultra low sulfur fuel in all public construction project.”

Intro 191A will require city owned or leased construction equipment to use cleaner fuel and be equipped with pollution control technology.  Ultra low sulfur diesel fuel combined with the best available retrofit technology has the ability to reduce diesel emissions by up to 90%.  As written, Intro 191-A provides a reasonable timeframe for implementation and provides flexibility for agencies and contractors to adapt to its requirements. 

“One million people in New York City have asthma — and the non-road diesel sector, which includes construction machinery, emits more dangerous fine particles than cars, trucks and power plants combined,” said Darrell.  “We urge Mayor Bloomberg to sign the bill.  There is no reason not to.  The technologies are available, the cost is reasonable and the benefits for health are significant.” 

A press conference is expected to be held Wednesday, December 17, at 2:30PM on the steps of City Hall.  Speakers will include; Councilmen James Gennaro and Alan Gerson; Andy Darrell, director of the Living Cities program at Environmental Defense; Catherine McVay Hughes, Founder and President of Asthma Moms; and a representative of the General Contractors Association.

The bill passed today was based on a successful project to cut emissions from construction vehicles at the World Trade Center site.  Environmental Defense worked with Governor Pataki to establish a commitment that would require all state construction vehicles at the World Trade Center site to use retrofits and ultra low sulfur diesel fuel.  Like the state, the City would start downtown but would then extend further to bring the benefits citywide within a reasonable timeframe.

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