Clean Air Advocates Commend Governor For Biofuel Tax Credit

ALBANY, NY (01/22/2008)(readMedia)-- -

Alliance for Clean Energy New York; American Heart Association; American Lung Association of New York State; Citizens Campaign for the Environment; Environmental Advocates of New York; Environmental Defense; New York League of Conservation Voters; Sustainable Energy Alliance of Long Island; New York Public Interest Research Group; WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Inc.


Increased use of Bioheat Benefits Public Health, Clean Air

A coalition of clean air advocates from across New York State commended Governor Spitzer today for providing a home heating fuel (bioheat) tax credit in his proposed 2008-09 Executive Budget. The use of bioheat drastically reduces the levels of pollutants produced and, by providing a credit of up to a 20 cent per gallon used, this tax credit incentivizes the market for bioheat here in New York.

“We commend Governor Spitzer for being true to his word by pushing for progressive, environmentally-friendly initiatives that will have immediate positive effects on the cost of heating, and long-term positive effects on air quality,” said Michael Seilback, Senior Director of Public Policy & Advocacy for the American Lung Association of New York State. “Thanks to the leadership Governor Spitzer has shown today, New York consumers will not have to endure another winter of paying a premium for the use of bioheat.”

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

“Given the cost of home heating oil, this tax credit helps remove a financial barrier for New Yorkers to heat their homes with a fuel that is cleaner, greener and includes content grown from the ground not extracted and shipped thousands of miles,” said Jason K. Babbie, Senior Environmental Policy Analyst with the New York Public Interest Research Group. “This helps consumers and the environment.”

"From Buffalo to Brookhaven, our built environment is responsible for a significant portion of the state's greenhouse gas emissions," said Marcia Bystryn, Executive Director of the New York League of Conservation Voters. "Encouraging the use of bioheat can dramatically reduce carbon emissions, and we applaud Gov. Spitzer for proposing the restoration of the bioheat tax credit, which will clean our air and ease our dependence on fossil fuels at a time of skyrocketing oil prices."

“I applaud Governor Spitzer for providing a biofuel tax credit in his proposed Budget,” said Carol Murphy, Executive Director of Alliance for Clean Energy New York. “In order to solve our energy crisis, there is no silver bullet—what we need is silver buckshot. Efforts like this biofuel tax credit are critically important aspects of a comprehensive energy policy that uses creative ways to address the public health and environmental impacts of our energy use."

“Switching to bioheat is better for our environment, improves air quality, and now is affordable to homeowners. We thank Governor Spitzer for this win-win initiative. It is these types of programs that are needed to advance these products to working class New Yorkers,” stated Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“A recent study by the Energy Research Center shows that the greatest air quality benefits are achieved when biofuel is burned as home heating oil mixed with low sulfur fuel (0.05% sulfur content) or even better when mixed with ultra low sulfur fuel (0.0015% sulfur content),” said Isabelle Silverman, an attorney with Environmental Defense. “A 20% biofuel and 80% low sulfur diesel fuel mix has been shown to reduce Sulfur Oxides by 83%, Nitrogen Oxides by 20%, Carbon Monoxides by 20% and also particulate matter emissions by at least 10%.”

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. Sulfur dioxide has been listed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a human carcinogen and has been shown to trigger asthma attacks. 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.