Legislation aims to reduce harmful emissions, keeping New York City on track to reduce emissions by 30% by 2020
Council will also vote to override the Mayor’s veto of two bills related to City’s Police Department

New York, NY- Today, the City Council will vote on a package of legislation to make City vehicles cleaner and greener by reducing harmful emissions.

The Council will also vote to override the Mayor’s veto of two bills related to the New York City’s Police Department (NYPD).

Additionally, the Council will vote to landmark part of Bedford-Stuyvesant and to expand the Stuyvesant Heights Historic District.

Emissions Legislation

Annual emissions in New York City have been reduced by an estimated 12.2 million tons since 2005 – a 19% reduction in citywide greenhouse gas emissions. Thanks in part to the Council’s efforts to enact legislation similar to the bills being voted on today, the City is on track reduce emissions by 30% by 2020 – ten years earlier than mandated by the New York City Climate Protection Act.

“We have an obligation to leave our city – and our planet as a whole – better than how we found it,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “To this end, the Council has passed ground-breaking legislation to reduce our carbon footprint. Today, we continue in our efforts to make New York City cleaner and greener than ever before.”

Reducing Emissions of Pollutants from Vehicles Used by the City of New York (Int. No. 1061-A)

Diesel exhaust contains toxic air contaminants which can cause several negative health effects, including asthma and other respiratory ailments, and even cancer. According to the most recent PlanNYC Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, diesel engines emit 1.65 million tons of carbon dioxide each year in New York City. Because nearly three-quarters of all City vehicles have diesel engines, there is a lot of room for the City to improve its own carbon footprint.

This bill would reduce the emissions of pollutants from City vehicles. First, it mandates that all City diesel vehicles use fuel blended with biodiesel, a more sustainable fuel made from food waste products such as soybean oil. This law requires a fuel blend of 5% biodiesel by 2014, and of 20% by 2016, during the warm weather months. The bill also calls for the City to conduct a pilot program to study the feasibility of using a 20% blend during the winter months. Finally, the law mandates that 90% of all City diesel-fueled vehicles that are over 8,500 pounds or used to transport waste, and sight-seeing buses licensed by the City, to have either an engine or an emissions control device that can capture at least 85% of the particulate matter from the vehicle’s exhaust by 2017.

“I am proud to have been an early supporter of the expanded use of biodiesel fuels that have created an entirely new green industry based right here in New York City employing hundreds of people,” said Council Member James F. Gennaro. “Together with Council Speaker Quinn, we’ve proven that environmentally sound policies that have a net positive effect on the health of millions of New Yorkers are great job-creators.”

Waivers for Certain Diesel-Powered Vehicles Lacking Retrofit Technology (Int. No. 1062-A)

Current law requires that anyone with solid waste contracts with the City, and companies operating City-licensed sight-seeing buses, to either use an engine that captures particulate matter in the diesel exhaust or to retrofit their existing diesel vehicles with an emission control device. However, a vehicle may receive waivers from these requirements.

This bill would eliminate the renewal of waivers after January 1, 2014.

Monitoring the Fuel Economy of Light-Duty and Medium-Duty Vehicles in City’s Fleet (Int. No. 1074-A)

This legislation would create a new way to assess the overall fuel economy of the City’s light- and medium-duty vehicles. Because burning fossil fuels is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and is also becoming increasingly expensive, improving the fuel economy of these vehicles has been a long-term goal of the City. However, current metrics used to quantify the City fleet’s overall fuel efficiency are inadequate, making it difficult to determine the City’s progress.

This bill will create a new way to measure the overall fuel economy of the City’s light- and medium-duty vehicles. By dividing the total number of miles driven by the total amount of fuel consumed by those vehicles, this metric will provide the average miles per gallon that the City’s vehicle fleet is actually getting in real-world conditions.

“As one of the most forward thinking cities in this great nation, we need to be more fuel efficient. The current metrics used to measure the overall fuel efficiency of the City’s vehicle fleet are not adequate, which leads to the city wasting fuel and money. This bill will help us ensure that tax-payer funding is used efficiently,” said Council Member Donovan Richards.

Minimum Average Fuel Economy of Light-Duty Vehicles Purchased by the City (Int. No. 1082-A)

This legislation builds on an existing law that mandates yearly improvements in the average fuel economy of all light-duty vehicles purchased during each fiscal year through to year 2015. This bill would extend the mandate to 2022 and will double the total improvement to vehicle fuel economy by 40% over the vehicles purchased in fiscal year 2004.

Auxiliary Power Units in Ambulances Pilots (Int. 218-A)

Because idling an engine wastes gas, pollutes the environment and has no benefits, idling restrictions are a simple, common-sense way to reduce air pollution without inconveniencing drivers. However, the law currently exempts authorized emergency vehicles.

The bill calls for the City’s Fire Department to oversee a pilot program using “auxiliary power units” to supply cooling, heating and electrical power to ambulances while the vehicle’s engine is turned off. The results of the pilot would allow the City to examine the amount of reduction of emissions and a cost-benefit analysis for equipping the entire ambulance fleet with this technology.

“This pilot program will demonstrate the value of providing auxiliary power units to waiting ambulances by eliminating the need for idling, which is a significant source of air pollution, and will pave the way for equipping the entire ambulance fleet with this technology,” said Council Member Oliver Koppell.

NYPD Inspector General (Int. 1079)

The Council will vote to override the Mayor’s veto of this bill. This legislation would task the Commissioner of the Department of Investigation (DOI) with the duty to review, study, audit and make recommendations relating to the operations, policies, programs and practices – including ongoing partnerships with other law enforcement agencies – of the NYPD. The DOI Commissioner could carry out these duties, task an existing staff member with the duties or hire someone new. The Mayor, in consultation with DOI and the NYPD, will decide how sensitive information – including information related to security threats, intelligence work and ongoing investigations – should be treated, and will create guidelines regarding the treatment of such information and share them with the Council.

The Executive Director of the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) and the Chief of the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau would also have to report any problems if they have reason to believe the issues would adversely affect the Department, public safety, civil liberties and civil rights – or the public’s confidence in the police to the DOI. There are protections for whistleblowers who report to the DOI about problems and the DOI’s website will have a link for the public to anonymously report complaints.

Finally, the DOI would be required to produce two kinds of reports to the Mayor, Council and Police Commissioner and promptly post the reports to the web.

Bias-based Profiling Bill (Int. 1080)

This bill would change the City’s prohibition on racial profiling by re-characterizing the prohibited act as “bias-based” profiling and amend its definition to include more categories of people who may not be profiled. It would also create causes of action for those who feel they have been unlawfully profiled.

The Council will vote to override the Mayor’s veto of this bill.

Landmark Part of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Expand the Stuyvesant Heights Historic District

The Council will vote to landmark part of Bedford-Stuyvesant and to expand the Stuyvesant Heights Historic District. Today’s vote will preserve and protect the architectural, social and cultural diversity of the neighborhood for years to come.

This district consists of properties bounded by Halsey and Macon Street to the North, Fulton Street to the South, Malcolm X Boulevard to the East and Tompkins Avenue to the West. The expanded district, comprised of 825 buildings, is largely characterized by 19th century row houses and four to five story apartment buildings designed in Queen Anne, neo-Grec, Romanesque Revival and Renaissance Revival styles. After a process of community consultation which spanned several decades, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate the Bedford Stuyvesant/Expanded Stuyvesant Heights a New York City historic district on April 16, 2013.

“I am proud to be the elected representative of a community that understands and treasures its history, especially as it is reflected in the beautiful architecture of the buildings that characterize our neighborhood,” said Council Member Al Vann. “The process the preceded this landmarking characterizes the spirit of Bedford-Stuyvesant. The entire project was community driven and community led. Volunteer leaders from Community Board 3 and the Bedford Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation dedicated innumerable hours to ensuring that property owners in the proposed district were well-informed and well-represented. Their efforts were supported by the expertise of the Landmarks Commission, whose staff researched and documented the district’s architectural and social history over the decades. Having attended multiple meetings and hearing consistently from constituents in favor of this landmarking over the years, I fully support it and congratulate those who will benefit from it and those who organized their efforts to make this designation a reality.”