State Senate Scheduled To Vote on Low Sulfur Heating Oil Bill At Special Session This Week

11/14/2009 11:04:26 AM



Westchester County Legislator Tom Abinanti (D- Greenburgh), is calling on the New York State Senate to pass a measure that would reduce the permissible sulfur level for home heating oil. The Senate is scheduled to consider the legislation when it convenes in a Special Session called by the Governor for Monday and Tuesday, November 16-17, 2009. The Assembly has already passed the bill.


The legislation (S. 1145-A) reduces the maximum sulfur level in No. 2 home heating oil to less than 15 parts per million. Today’s No. 2 heating oil, the most widely used, contains 2600 parts per million of sulfur. The proposed level is the same as the maximum that federal government currently allows for diesel oil in on-road vehicles across the United States.


“The legislation would greatly improve Westchester’s air quality and protect the health of the region’s residents,” said Abinanti, chair of the Westchester Legislature’s Committee on the Environment & Energy.


The current home heating oil releases dangerous pollution into the air, including ozone and fine particles called PM 2.5. Much of downstate New York, including Westchester and New York City, exceeds federal standards for PM 2.5 and for ozone. These particles are linked to increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, difficulty breathing, decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, development of chronic bronchitis and irregular heartbeat. The increased cost of ultra-low sulfur No. 2 heating oil over today’s No. 2 heating oil is minimal.


Abinanti has proposed similar legislation for Westchester. Abinanti’s measure was the result of a yearlong, intensive review of Westchester’s air quality by the “Healthy Air Task Force” which Abinanti created in 2004 to suggest ways to reduce particulate matter and other harmful carcinogens that are polluting Westchester’s air. The Healthy Air Task Force consisted of members of Westchester’s environment and health communities.


“More and more children are suffering from asthma and other respiratory diseases,” said the Greenburgh lawmaker.  “It’s our air, we have to protect it.”