Lung Association Reacts to Governor Eliot Spitzer’s Veto of Clean Air Legislation

Calls on Governor Spitzer to Ensure that Measure is Included in Executive Budget

ALBANY, NY (08/16/2007)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Association of New York State reacted with disappointment to Governor Spitzer’s veto of A.7909 (sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Sweeney) / S.5451 (sponsored by Senator Carl Marcellino). This law would have extended two tax credits for owners of apartment buildings, coops and homes. The first tax credit was for consumers who use biodiesel as a home heating fuel (bioheat). The use of bioheat drastically reduces the levels of pollutants produced and also provides direct health benefits. The second tax credit was for the purchase of energy-efficient home heating systems. This legislation passed the state legislature during the regular 2007 legislative session and was vetoed yesterday by Governor Eliot Spitzer.

“Governor Spitzer’s veto of this bill and his allowance of these tax credits to permanently sunset, forces New York consumers to endure another winter of paying a premium for the use of bioheat. We had a valuable opportunity to significantly reduce air pollutants that adversely impact public health through this tax credit,” said Michael Seilback, Senior Director of Public Policy & Advocacy of the American Lung Association of New York State. “However, the Lung Association is committed to move forward and work with Governor Spitzer to include this measure in his next Executive Budget.”

Mr. Seilback pointed to the Governor’s own veto message where the Governor expressed that he is “a strong advocate for reducing energy consumption and emissions in the State…. This agenda require innovative and targeted initiatives which I will be proposing in next year’s budget.”

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.

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

“Pollutants from the combustion of home heating fuel are associated with increased hospitalization and mortality due to cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses. We look forward to working with Governor Spitzer to ensure that the use of bioheat is encouraged and that all New Yorkers will be able to breathe a little easier,” continued Seilback.