Updated 04/21/2011 11:17 PM
Mayor Goes After Dirty Heating Oil In PlaNYC Update
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The city is expanding its green agenda with a plan to target dirty heating oils.
At a press conference in Harlem Thursday morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled the 132 initiatives he is pursuing as his first official update of PlaNYC, a wide-ranging environmental plan he unveiled in 2007.
Among them is a regulation that would end the use of two of the dirtiest types of heating oil in all city buildings, known as Number 4 and Number 6.
"This Number 4 and Number 6 oil produces more soot pollution every year -- listen to this -- than all cars and trucks in New York City combined, and is a major contributor to deadly respiratory diseases," Bloomberg said. "By the time today's new rules are fully implemented, we expect that they will save something like 1,500 New York lives a year and improve the quality of life for thousands more."
As NY1 reported in February, the city burns the dirty oil at more than 400 public schools. The phase-out will apply to city-owned buildings as well as private ones.
Environmentalists praised the policy change and so did some residents.
"As a mother with children we're all very concerned about air quality. And it will be a big improvement in the air quality in our building and in the surrounding neighborhood," said Catherine Hughes of Community Board 1.
The real estate industry has fought the phase-out, arguing that making the necessary conversions will be costly.
"For rental buildings, it may mean big rent increases. For co-ops and condos, big run-ups in the maintenance charges. And for buildings that can't afford it there's going to be widespread non-compliance," said Frank Ricci of the Rent Stabilization Association.
The mayor said the city is also pursuing public private partnerships to put solar panels on city landfills. The city also has plans to increase recycling and set up farmers markets in community gardens.
Bloomberg spoke of the successes the city has achieved since he first launched PlaNYC, while also acknowledging one giant setback -- the failure to win approval in Albany for congestion pricing.
"I don't think we should look back and say 'Why it didn't get done?' I think we just have to find a way to do what's right in the future," said the mayor.
For Bloomberg, that means planting trees, building more parks and reducing the city's greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 percent by 2030.