NYS Clean Diesel Regulations Show Promise

Regulations Will Reduce Harmful Effects of Diesel Pollution

ALBANY, NY (10/09/2008)(readMedia)-- A coalition of environmental and public health groups today urged adoption of regulations drafted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) which implement aspects of the New York State Diesel Emission Reduction Act of 2006. As specified in regulations published in the New York State Register on October 8, on-road and off-road heavy duty diesel vehicles which are owned or under contract with New York State must use ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel, and be fitted with best available retrofit technologies by December 31, 2010.

"Through these regulations, Governor Paterson and Commissioner Grannis have taken real steps to clean up a real problem, New York's dirty air," said Michael Seilback, Vice President, Public Policy & Communications for the American Lung Association of New York. "It is imperative that New Yorkers show their support for these regulations by attending and testifying at the public hearings across the state."

The Diesel Emission Reduction Act of 2006 required the Commissioner of DEC to enact rules governing which technologies shall be considered best available retrofit technologies.

DEC plans to hold the following public hearings:

-- Nov. 24, 2008, 1 p.m. at DEC Annex, Region 2, 11-15 47th Ave., Hearing Rm. 106, Long Island City

-- Nov. 25, 2008, 1 p.m. at DEC Reg. 8 Office, Conference Rm., 6274 E. Avon-Lima Rd., Avon

-- Nov. 26, 2008, 9 a.m. at DEC, 625 Broadway, Public Assembly Rm. 129, Albany

"Environmental Advocates of New York applauds Governor Paterson and Commissioner Grannis for taking this monumental step to clean-up our air. Dirty diesel emissions account for a major portion of the pollution endangering our environment and the health of our families. We urge the Department of Environmental Conservation to finalize rulemaking without delay, as every day that passes without curbing diesel emissions is another day of increased rates of asthma in children and the further degradation of our natural resources," said Jackson Morris, Environmental Advocates of New York.

"We salute Governor Paterson and Commissioner Grannis for helping New York lead by example," said Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. "Diesel emissions are a significant health and environmental concern, and New Yorkers can breathe a little easier knowing that cleaner air is on the way."

"Children and seniors will breathe easier because of Gov. Paterson's and Commissioner Grannis' leadership on moving forward with the proposed regulations," said Cecil Corbin-Mark, deputy director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice. "Cleaning the fleet of on-road and off-road vehicles under the State's control will lead to less asthma and fewer deaths for our most vulnerable."

"Stronger diesel regulations will result in a reduction of harmful emissions including nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and air toxics, which contribute to serious public health problems. These emissions are linked to thousands of premature deaths, asthma attacks, lost work days, and numerous other health impacts every year. CCE commends the stronger regulations proposed by the DEC to address these serious issues," said Adrienne Esposito, Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

"Once these sensible regulations are adopted, all New Yorkers will be able to breathe easier," said Gordian Raacke, executive director of the not-for-profit organization Renewable Energy Long Island (RELI). "We applaud Governor Paterson and the DEC for proposing these regulations and hope that they will be adopted without delay."

"89 percent of New York State residents breathe air not meeting federal health-based standards," said Isabelle Silverman, legal fellow with Environmental Defense Fund. "Because available retrofit technologies work on virtually every engine application to trap over 85 percent of soot, EDF supports rules requiring the highest possible soot reduction."

The law established the following schedule for installing the retrofit technologies: not less than 33 percent of all vehicles by December 31, 2008; not less than 66 percent of all vehicles by December 31, 2009; and, not less than 100% of all vehicles by December 31, 2010.

Air pollution problems and their attendant health threats have become serious statewide issues. Millions of New Yorkers are at-risk. In fact, according to the EPA, 89 percent of the state's population lives in a county where air quality does not attain federal health standards. In addition, the EPA has declared the counties of Suffolk, Nassau, Queens, Kings, Richmond, New York, Bronx, Westchester, Rockland and Orange in "non-attainment" for fine particles.

The high air pollution levels in New York State make people sick and even cut lives short. Diesel pollution has been shown by a wealth of science to trigger asthma attacks; is linked to heart attacks, cancer and even premature deaths in seniors; and is associated with ambient levels of both ozone and fine particles.

According to the New York State Department of Health, the typical hospital bill for a person on Medicaid who is hospitalized for an asthma attack is $9,500, which is more than a diesel particulate filter (DPF) would cost. Thus, if each DPF installed provides enough clean air to avoid just one asthma-related hospital admission, then the legislation pays for itself. Furthermore, this law will increase economic opportunities for companies in New York State who currently make diesel emission reduction technologies.

The American Lung Association's State of the Air 2008 report found that from Buffalo to Bayport, and from Staten Island to Saratoga millions of New Yorkers are being forced to breathe unhealthy air. For most of the state, there truly is no escape for New Yorkers whose health is impacted by air pollution.

Diesel emissions remain a particularly troublesome health threat. They are a contributing factor to the ozone problems facing so many New York communities and are a big reason why the New York City metro area has such a problem with fine particles. In fact, New York State has the highest number of deaths and the greatest rate of disease associated with diesel exhaust particles. The New York City metropolitan area leads the nation in total deaths, cancer deaths, and heart attacks associated with diesel emissions. Unlike many areas of the country, the health effects associated with diesel pollution in New York are even greater than those associated with power plant fine particle pollution.

An interactive map showing air quality findings in New York, by county, is available at www.alany.org. For information on how to comment on these regulations, contact Michael Seilback of the American Lung Association of New York at (631) 265 3848 x16.