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Jason Schwartz gives testimony on NYC heating oil rule

February 28, 2011

Today, the city is conducting hearings on a regulation that the Bloomberg administration released last month to address the soot pollution from residual oil.

As our expert, Jason Schwartz, testified, the Mayor is to be commended for having taken this step. But it is a slow start and allows these dangerous pollutants to be emitted for too long.

For every year that soot continues to be released into the atmosphere from the heating boilers of many New York City buildings, hundreds of lives are lost. Though this rule begins to control the problem, it leaves open the possibility that dirty, soot-producing fuel can be burned through 2033 in many cases.

Bloomberg’s standards are stricter when it comes to brand new boilers—requiring that they use a cleaner burning heating fuel known as #2 oil. But older boilers would not have to make changes for several years and even then, the rule is riddled with loopholes and exemptions.

Switching away from residual oils to cleaner fuels makes economic sense for New Yorkers. It generates billions of dollars in benefits in averted doctor’s visits, asthma cases, and untimely deaths. The sooner the use of residual oil is stopped, the healthier our air will be to breathe. While the Bloomberg Administration’s rule is a step in the right direction, it has pushed that date off far into the future.

A version of Schwartz’s remarks will be submitted to the City as public comments on the proposed regulation.

Filed under Environmental Health, News