The Council of the City of New York
Office of Council Member Costa Constantinides
For Immediate Release
September 28, 2016
Contact: Shachar Sharon
Council Passes Constantinides Clean Heating Oil Bill
New York City Hall – The New York City Council today voted overwhelmingly to pass INT. 642-A, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides. The legislation ensures more sustainable energy consumption by increasing the use of biodiesel in home heating oil. The bill increases biodiesel use from the current standard of 2% to a 5% blend by October 2017, and then raises that blend up to 20% by 2034 on an incremental basis.
This policy will reduce the fossil fuel content of heating oil and increase use of a renewable energy source. Biodiesel is a significantly cleaner heating fuel than petroleum as it can emit up to 90% fewer greenhouse gases and ten times less particulate matter.
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 will reduce the citywide petroleum consumption by over 150 million gallons and can decrease carbon emissions by up to 40%, equivalent to taking over 175,000 cars off the road.
Cleaner heating oil is an integral part of the City’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Mayor de Blasio included cleaner heating oil as part of this year’s OneNYC plan progress report and highlighted the elimination of the dirtiest heating oil, B6 Oil. 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, “Expanding use of biofuel in our heating oil would reduce pollution, upgrade air quality, and improve our public health. INT. 642-A is a tested solution that will bring us closer toward our goal of reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2050 and help us combat the effects of climate change. This is a doable policy that will make our city more sustainable and support green jobs . I thank my council colleagues for their support on this legislation.”
“The City Council is pleased to be passing legislation that builds on our commitment to making our City greener and more sustainable for all New Yorkers,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Biodiesel is a biofuel that burns cleaner and costs less than traditional petroleum fuel oil. By transitioning to cleaner heating oil, we are sending less carbon monoxide, less particulate matter, and fewer unburned hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. I thank Environmental Protection Chair Costa Constantinides for his diligent work on this initiative.”
Environmental advocacy groups New York League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Defense Fund, and Empire Clean Cities supported the legislation.
“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. “Not only will increasing the biofuel blend in our home heating oil help fight climate change, but it will also save lives by reducing the amount of particulate matter released into the air. We congratulate Council Member Constantinides on the passage of his bill, which he has long advocated for, and Speaker Mark-Viverito for helping to bring it to a successful vote today. “
“Under Councilmember Constantinides’ leadership, the New York City Council is helping lessen the city’s dependence on fossil fuels and transition to cleaner alternatives by using locally sourced biodiesel to heat buildings,” said Abbey Brown, New York Clean Energy Project Manager at Environmental Defense Fund.
“Passing INT. 642 is a critical step towards meeting Mayor De Blasio’s 80% emission reduction goals within NYC by 2050. Buildings are the largest emitter of emissions within NYC and we must push for legislation, such as INT. 642, that addresses the need for low emitting buildings. Biodiesel is a renewable energy source that can be implemented today. Councilman Constantinides is committed towards improving the environmental quality for our city and Empire Clean Cities stands in support of his bill to ensure a cleaner, healthier, sustainable city and region,” said Jennifer Urrutia, Program & Communications Manager of Empire Clean Cities.
This policy also supports green jobs, including the Teamsters Local 553, who transport the fuel to buildings.
Demos Demopoulos, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 553, said, “Our members are proud to deliver the fuel that keeps New York families warm every winter. We want to do that job in a clean, green way. We are standing with Council Member Constantinides and the environmental community to increase biofuels in our heating oil because we can have safe and warm homes, clean air, and good jobs at the same time.”
Blending biofuel in heating oil has been a citywide practice since 2012, when then-Mayor Bloomberg signed into law a bill that required home heating oil contain a 2% biodiesel blend.
In New York City, biodiesel is predominantly sourced from restaurants throughout the city that sell their used cooking grease to grease collectors to turn it into biofuel.
This legislation will bring no added costs to homeowners. The cost of biodiesel has historically been on parity with, or slightly cheaper than, standard petroleum heating oil. As a safeguard, the bill allows the city Department of Environmental Protection to waive the bill’s requirements if there is an insufficient biodiesel supply; the price of biodiesel is significantly greater than the price of petroleum; or a particular boiler type is known to have a warranty or compatibility issue.
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on six additional committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.