State Legislature must pass law allowing cleaner heating oil

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As citizens concerned about our environment, we urge the state Senate and state Assembly to pass their respective bills — S.1145-A and A.8642 — which will protect the public health and reduce air pollution by requiring No. 2 heating oil, the most widely used, to meet the same refining standards the federal government currently mandates for diesel oil used in vehicles.

If the oil we use in our vehicles must satisfy safety standards, then the oil we use in our heating systems in our homes must, at a minimum, follow suit.

The federal government will not address this pollution menace due to the regional nature of home heating oil use. Therefore, the Senate must pass this important piece of legislation that curbs greenhouse gas emissions.

Most home heating oil is high in sulfur and releases dangerous pollution into the air, including ozone and fine particles called PM 2.5. Much of downstate New York, including New York City, exceeds federal standards for PM 2.5 and ozone.

These particles are linked to serious health and respiratory conditions, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, difficulty breathing, decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, development of chronic bronchitis and irregular heartbeat. They also shorten life expectancy.

New York state is the largest consumer of home heating oil and this initiative will make our state the national leader in eliminating one of the causes of global warming and improve the health of those suffering from respiratory and other conditions. The sulfur reduction that will result from the passage of this law is equivalent to shutting down 2 1/2 coal plants in New York state.

We cannot fail to act on our community’s health. Studies assure us that the cost of this strategy is minimal. The costs of No. 2 heating oil and on-road, ultra-low sulfur diesel oil are often within 3 percent to 5 percent of each other.

The state Legislature must pass this important law expeditiously as a matter of urgent health necessity.

Albert Baldeo

Ozone Park

Updated 5:54 pm, October 10, 2011
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