NEW YORK -- May 9 -- New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today signed five important new laws to reduce air pollution in the city, including a measure to sharply reduce smoky diesel exhaust from school buses, tour buses and sanitation trucks. These laws constitute the most significant overhaul of the City's vehicle pollution laws in fifteen years, according to NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).
"Diesel vehicles are one of the most dangerous air pollution sources left in the city. Cleaning them up will bring a huge improvement in the quality of life for all New Yorkers," said Richard Kassel, NRDC Senior Attorney and director of its Clean Vehicles and Fuels Project. "Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council are doing a great thing for everybody who breathes New York City air."
Diesel soot triggers asthma attacks and other emergencies, bronchitis, cancer, emphysema and as many as 1,800 premature deaths in the City every year. It also contributes to the region's summertime smog. New York City fails to meet the federal health standards for both smog and soot that have been set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The new laws signed today replace will require diesel school buses, tour buses, and sanitation trucks to use ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, and to install the most effective pollution control devices available. Together, these steps can cut emissions by more than 90 percent. Other bills in the package require municipally-owned vehicles to use the lowest-emission vehicles possible, and cut NYC vehicle fuel consumption by twenty percent by 2009.
"Diesel pollution is a fixable problem," continued Kassel. "These new laws will help make the plume of black smoke that follows many school buses and garbage trucks a thing of the past."
Since the early 1990s, NRDC's Clean Vehicles and Fuels Project has worked to reduce vehicle pollution in the City. Its "Dump Dirty Diesels" campaign ran ads on the backs of MTA buses in the mid-1990s that read, "Standing behind this bus could be more dangerous than standing in front of it." Soon after, MTA agreed to buy its first 500 natural gas buses. In 2000, NRDC and the MTA developed the nation's first fleet-wide emissions reduction plan, which created the model for today's diesel clean-up legislation. Last month, NRDC released "Smoke Out: Three Measures for Cleaning Up Diesel Air Pollution in New York City," which outlined the health threats of diesel pollution, and urged the City to pass today's legislation.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 1 million members and online activists nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Related NRDC Pages
Smoke Out: Three Measures for Cleaning Up Diesel Air Pollution in New York City