The City of New York has taken another significant step in reducing the region's carbon footprint by passing legislation today that incrementally displaces 20 percent of the heating oil sold within the city with cleaner-burning, sustainable, biodiesel.
"New York City is once again setting an example for the rest of the Northeast to follow by ensuring consumers are provided with the nation's cleanest heating oil," said Donnell Rehagen, Chief Operating Officer of the National Biodiesel Board. "Not only does biodiesel dramatically reduce carbon emissions, it reduces other harmful pollutants as well as smog, making New York's air healthier to breathe."
The bill, which was passed today by a 47-3 vote and is expected to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, will increase the amount of biodiesel in heating oil in the City from the current two percent level to five percent October 1, 2017. The blend level then moves to 10 percent in 2025, 15 percent in 2030, and 20 percent in 2034.
A wide variety of organizations supported this important effort including the heating oil industry, labor organizations, and environmental stakeholders in the City.
"The New York Oil Heating Association has played a vital and vocal role in advocating for the increased use of Bioheat® fuel," said Rocco Lacertosa, CEO of the New York Heating Oil Association (NYOHA). "We applaud the City Council for passing legislation that will reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality in New York City and we commend our partners in the environmental and labor community for their dedication to this issue. Heating oil in New York City is already, by far, the cleanest heating oil sold anywhere in the United States. The new Bioheat requirement, starting at B5 and eventually going up to B20, is a necessary next step to promote a more sustainable fuel that will reduce our contribution to climate change while enhancing green job creation, encouraging energy independence and supporting local businesses."
It is estimated that the increase from a two percent biodiesel blend to a five percent blend in the City would reduce the emissions equivalent to taking 45,000 cars off the road with the increase to 20 percent the equivalent of removing more than a quarter of a million cars.
Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as soybean oil, recycled cooking oil and animal fats, biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement fuel. It is the first commercial-scale fuel produced across the U.S. to meet the EPA's definition as an Advanced Biofuel - meaning the EPA has determined that biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent when compared with petroleum diesel.
The heating oil market isn't New York's only experience with biodiesel.
In 2013, New York City planned for their 9,000 diesel-powered municipal fleet vehicles to use biodiesel blends. It began with the Parks Department, which found compliance so easy it soon increased its biodiesel use to B20 in its vehicles. Other departments followed suit, including the Department of Sanitation, which began using biodiesel in all of its fleet vehicles. With Sanitation consuming 80 percent of New York City's fleet fuel, its move to biodiesel has paid dividends. The City has experienced a 19 percent reduction in carbon emissions since 2005, on track to reach an 80 percent reduction by 2050.