2016-06-01 / Features

Constantinides Calls For More Sustainable Heating


City Council Member Costa Constantinides, joined by environmental groups and others, rallied in support of his bill INT. 642, legislation that would ensure more sustainable energy consumption by increasing the use of biodiesel in home heating oil. City Council Member Costa Constantinides, joined by environmental groups and others, rallied in support of his bill INT. 642, legislation that would ensure more sustainable energy consumption by increasing the use of biodiesel in home heating oil. City Council Member Costa Constantinides, joined by environmental groups and others, rallied in support of his bill INT. 642 on May 25. The legislation would ensure more sustainable energy consumption by increasing the use of biodiesel in home heating oil. The bill would increase biodiesel use from the current standard of 2% to a 5% blend, and then raise that blend incrementally until we get to 20%.

The increase from a 2% to a 5% blend would have an environmental impact equivalent of taking 45,000 cars off the road. A 20% blend can reduce carbon emissions by up to 40%, equivalent to taking 300,000 cars off the road. It would reduce the fossil fuel content of heating oil and increase use of a renewable energy source.

There are currently 34 co-sponsors in the Council. At an October 2015 hearing on INT. 642, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater New York and several environmental advocates testified in favor.

Cleaner heating oil has been a priority in New York City’s efforts to combat climate change. In 2012, Mayor Bloomberg signed into law a bill that required home heating oil contain a 2% biodiesel blend. This year, Mayor de Blasio included cleaner heating oil as part of the OneNYC plan’s progress and highlighted the elimination of the dirtiest heating oil, B6 Oil.

These policies showed results. According to the Community Air Survey released in April, the significant improvements we’ve seen in our air quality have been in our building emissions due to a conversion to cleaner heating oil.

Constantinides said, “This bill would help reduce pollution, clean our air quality, and improve our public health. The Council, administration, environmental advocates, and building owners who would need to implement this policy are in agreement that this is an important and doable step in our efforts to combat climate change. Increasing biofuel in our home heating oil is a tested solution that will help bring us closer toward our goal of reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2050. I look forward to bringing this bill to a vote very soon.”

“The fact of the matter is buildings make up 75% of our emissions and we have to take every opportunity to reduce them if we are to meet our ‘80 by ‘50’ goal,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “We applaud Council Member Constantinides for his leadership on this legislation to increase biofuel in home heating oil. Not only will it benefit our climate but it will also save lives by reducing the amount of particulate matter released into the air and in turn the incidence of the harmful respiratory diseases like asthma.”

“This bill, if passed, could be a significant step in New York City’s path toward a more sustainable future,” said Abbey Brown, Clean Energy Project Manager at Environmental Defense Fund. “NYC already enjoys its cleanest air since the 1960s, and the increased use of biodiesel in heating oil will only continue to improve air quality. EDF looks forward to working with Councilmember Constantinides and the New York City Council to ensure biodiesel is locally sourced, and to build on this tremendous progress.”

“Empire Clean Cities supports opportunities like INT.642 that are more environmentally forward thinking and a step in the right direction towards reducing fossil fuel reliance,” said Jennifer Urrutia, Program Coordinator at Empire Clean Cities.

There would be no added costs to homeowners if this policy is enacted. The cost of biodiesel has historically been on parity with, or slightly cheaper than, standard heating oil. In fact, over the last 4 years, biofuel has been less expensive than conventional heating oil by an average of 21 cents per gallon.

This policy would also bring additional green jobs. Biodiesel is predominantly sourced from used cooking oil from New York’s 24,000 restaurants. The biodiesel industry supports thousands of jobs, including the Teamsters Local 553 who transport the fuel to buildings.

Demos Demopoulos, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 553, said, “As the union representing workers in New York’s heating oil industry, Teamsters Local 553 is committed to working with elected officials and businesses to make the heating oil that heats our homes cleaner and greener. Our members live here and breathe the same air as everyone else. We are proud of our work keeping New Yorkers warm every winter and are proud to partner with Councilmember Constantinides in protecting public health.”

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