Bioheat Tax Credit Will Benefit Air Quality, Save Consumers Money

Clean Air Advocates Commend Governor Paterson and State Legislature

ALBANY, NY (04/09/2008)(readMedia)-- A coalition of public health organizations, the agricultural community, and environmental and community groups from across New York State today celebrated the inclusion of a home heating fuel (bioheat) tax credit in the just passed 2008-09 New York State Budget. By including a tax credit of up to a 20 cents per gallon used, Governor Paterson and the State Legislature have incentivized the market for bioheat here in New York, which will help reduce the levels of pollutants produced from home heating.

“Governor Paterson has long been a champion for air quality and when he signs this progressive, environmentally-friendly tax-credit into law, New York State will realize immediate positive effects on air quality and the cost of this cleaner heating fuel,” said Michael Seilback, Senior Director of Public Policy & Advocacy for the American Lung Association of New York State. “New York consumers will not have to endure another winter of paying a premium for the use of bioheat and they have Governor Paterson and our State Legislature to thank.”

The tax credit for bioheat will help stimulate a market for clean home heating fuel. On average, bioheat is 20 cents more per gallon than home heating fuel. This state tax credit will make the price of bioheat competitive with the traditional fuel.

“One of the environmental highlights of this year's state budget is the tax credit for bioheat,” said Laura Haight, NYPIRG's senior environmental associate. “We applaud the Governor and the Legislature for providing this incentive for homeowners to switch to cleaner home heating fuel. This will yield significant health and environmental benefits for New Yorkers.”

"The restoration of the bioheat tax credit will help clean our air and ease our dependence on fossil fuels at a time of skyrocketing oil prices," said Marcia Bystryn, executive director of the New York League of Conservation Voters. "This measure makes it easier for average citizens to reduce their carbon footprint, and we applaud Gov. David Paterson, the Assembly and the Senate for handing them this powerful tool in the fight against air pollution and climate change."

“With this important budget provision, New Yorkers will be able to use cleaner biofuels for their home heating without paying a price premium,” said Carol E. Murphy, Executive Director, Alliance for Clean Energy New York. “These types of targeted tax credits are innovative solutions that save New Yorkers money, spur investment in the green economic sector, and help clean our environment.”

“This is terrific news for all the homeowners who would like to choose biofuels in their effort to fight global warming and reduce our nation’s dependency of foreign fossil fuels,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “The bioheat tax credit empowers homeowners to choose cleaner air without costing them additional money.”

“Tax credits for the use of bioheat is a smart way to encourage the use of this renewable resource. It helps reduce pollution thus improving local air quality and health in our communities - a winning solution on many levels,” said Mel Peffers, Air Quality Project Manager for the Environmental Defense Fund.

Home heating oil is essentially the same as diesel fuel, except there are virtually no limits to the level of sulfur that can be in it. Since home heating oil has such a high level of sulfur, its combustion is the second largest source of sulfur dioxide emissions in the state – only the power sector emits more. In fact, burning this fuel causes nearly 42,000 tons of sulfur dioxide to be emitted each year.

Compounding the problem is the rate at which New York State consumes home heating oil. With 2.6 million households, New York leads the nation in the amount of homes heated by oil. Most disturbingly, over 79% of this consumption occurs in the New York Metropolitan region.

The combustion of sulfur-laden home heating oil contributes significantly to the high ambient concentrations of ozone and fine particles found in New York State – particularly in the greater New York Metro area. This creates a localized pollution problem that has a disproportionate burden on some of the lowest income urban areas in the state. Statewide, at least 89 percent of the population lives in a county where air quality does not attain federal health standards. Millions of New Yorkers continue to be at risk.

The following organizations took part in this release: American Lung Association of New York State, NYPIRG, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, New York League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Advocates of New York, Alliance for Clean Energy New York, and the New York Farm Bureau.