By the end of the month, New York City could be on its way to much cleaner air and fewer polluting buildings. Under new rules proposed last Friday, the dirtiest types of heating oils — used by 10,000 city buildings — would be completely phased out by 2015, resulting in a 63 percent reduction of soot pollution.
Officials estimate that the new regulations would reduce total soot pollution in the city by more than 60 percent, and the Health Department believes the regulations would prevent 200 deaths, 100 hospitalizations, and 300 emergency room visits each year — all because of cleaner air.
The regulations coincide with the new clean air laws enacted by the city and the state last year. The State law required a 99 percent reduction in the sulfur content of No. 2 home heating oil (the most common kind), and the City laws required halving the sulfur content in No. 4 and using biodiesel for at least 2 percent of all heating oils.
Environmental advocates say the rules are a huge step forward. No. 4 and No. 6 oils create 15 percent more soot that No. 2 or natural gas. A lawyer from the Environmental Defense Fund told the New York Times that only 1 percent of the city’s buildings burn the dirtiest oils, but they account for 85 percent of the heating oil soot pollution.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Particles in the air combine with soot pollution has been found to increase global warming. Eliminating the dirtiest heating oils would reduce the particles in New York City’s air, thus helping to mitigate global warming and reducing NYC’s carbon footprint. On top of that, the city would be a healthier and cleaner place to live and work, which would improve the lives of all New Yorkers.