Jacobs & legislature approve environmental law to curb air pollution and improve public health

Nassau County Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) and the legislature yesterday approved clean air legislation aimed at protecting public health and the environment by requiring the use of clean diesel fuel and the installation of filter devices on most County vehicles as well as vehicles used by County contractors that perform County work.

“Nassau County can do better when it comes to improving its air quality and protecting the health of its residents,” Jacobs said. “This law will go a long way in achieving those goals.”

Proposed by Legislator Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick), the bill, which enjoyed broad, bi-partisan support in the Legislature, requires that all county owned heavy duty vehicles (used in on-road and off-road applications) and those under contract with the county use ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD) by 2013.The bill defines ULSD as diesel fuel having a sulfur concentration of 15 parts per million or less which is now the U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency standard for on-highway diesel fuel.The law also requires these vehicles to be fitted with best available retrofit technologies to reduce tailpipe emissions.These devices are also readily available having been installed on thousands of vehicles in New York.

“We thank Legislator Denenberg, Presiding Officer Jacobs, and the entire Legislature for voting in favor of this bill.Since diesel exhaust has been linked to premature death, lung cancer, asthma attacks and many other health ailments, this new law will improve public health and reduce health care costs for all,” said Michael Seilback, Senior Director of Coalitions & Policy of the American Lung Association of New York State.

The legislation establishes the following schedule for installing the retrofit technologies:not less than 25% of all vehicles by January 1, 2009; not less than 50% of all vehicles by January 1, 2011; and 100% of all vehicles by January 1, 2013.

Recently, the County Executives of Nassau, Suffolk, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester signed a Statement of Intent with New York City; the New York State Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, and the US Environmental Protection Agency agreeing that they would work together regionally to curb diesel emissions.

 “Fortunately, newer engines have become cleaner due to improved emission control technologies. However, the continued use of older trucks without modern filters and allowing these vehicles to idle excessively is hindering progress in improving regional air quality,” Legislator Jacobs said.

Vehicle exhaust is a source of cancer causing carbon monoxide, particulate matter as well as, toxic air contaminants and greenhouse gases.

“With the eventual implementation of this legislation in Nassau County, and throughout the surrounding regions, residents can breathe a little bit easier,” Jacobs said.