Mayor de Blasio announced this week that all 5,300 NYC buildings that were previously registered as using No. 6 heating oil have discontinued the practice. As of December 31, 2015, all of the buildings have converted to a cleaner form of fuel, moving the city one major step forward toward its goal of seeing an 80-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and having the cleanest air of any large U.S. city by 2030.
Heating oil No. 6 is a sludge-like substance containing high levels of sulfur that is both harmful to the environment as well as dangerous for humans. The oil has been linked to a variety of health problems such as respiratory problems and even premature death. The Bloomberg administration outlawed the harmful oil in 2010, but some NYC buildings continued to use it for years. Under the terms of the law, all NYC buildings had until June 30, 2015 to find a cleaner heating source, however, there were some exceptions to that date and specific buildings were granted more time to convert to a cleaner oil. Now, as of December 31st, all NYC buildings have discontinued burning the deleterious fuel.
“Climate change is one of the greatest threats we face – and the most vulnerable New Yorkers are disproportionately impacted,” said Mayor de Blasio. “That’s why we’ve challenged ourselves to cut emissions 80 percent by the year 2050, and to achieve the cleanest air of any major U.S. city by 2030. Fully eliminating No. 6 heating oil – the most polluting heating oil – from our buildings is a vital step toward those goals, and we’ll continue to move toward renewables and away from fossil fuels.”
Since the 5,300 buildings have switched from the harmful No. 6 oil to a a cleaner burning fuel, there has already been a notable reduction in air pollution levels, especially in the neighborhoods with the highest density of boiler conversions such as northern Manhattan, northern Queens, and the South Bronx. According to the DEP, the heating oil conversions have reduced citywide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by an estimated 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. As a result of the improved air quality, it’s estimated that 210 deaths and 540 hospitalizations will be prevented each year.
Images via DEP Flickr