New York State Assembly, Albany, New York 12248

  A Special Report from the


Commission on



Sheldon Silver, Speaker square Ruben Diaz, Jr., Vice-Chair
December 2002

Ruben Diaz, Jr., Vice-Chair Letter from the Vice Chair

What Has The State Done To Promote Clean Fuel and Vehicle Technologies?


  • Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel: This session, the Assembly passed two bills (A. 10130, Silver and A. 11027, DiNapoli) to hasten the implementation of low sulfur standards. (See 2002 State Legislation) Diesel fuel use is recognized as a major source of fine particles, and the sulfate content of fine particulates. 'Clean diesel' generally refers to diesel with reduced sulfur content. Conventional diesel fuel for highway vehicles in the US currently has a sulfur content up to 500 ppm. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA will require use of a 15 ppm sulfur diesel fuel by 2007. The use of low sulfur diesel fuel in conjunction with emission control devices reduces particulate and hydrocarbon emissions by 90% or more but still results in significant levels of nitrogen oxide.

  • School Bus Retrofits: In this year’s budget, the Assembly was successful in securing $5 million of Clean Water/Clean Air Environmental Bond Act of 1996 (Chapter 412, Laws of 1996) monies for diesel-fueled school bus retrofit projects.

  • State Tax Credits: Purchasers of electric and alternative fuel vehicles in NYS are eligible for a state tax credit equal to 50 percent of the incremental costs (the difference in cost between a regular gasoline vehicle and a hybrid vehicle) up to a maximum of $5,000/vehicle. A state tax credit equal to 60 percent of incremental cost is available for purchasers of AFV up to a maximum of $5,000 for vehicles weighing 14,000 pounds or less and up to $10,000 for heavier vehicles. The cost of installation of clean-fuel vehicle refueling facilities is eligible for a tax credit of up to 50 percent. The incremental cost of qualified vehicles is exempt from NYS sales tax. This program, which expires on February 28, 2003, was extended this session until February 28, 2004, and expanded to include tax credits for "hybrid" vehicles. (See "2002 State Legislation")

  • Heavy Duty Vehicle Emissions Reduction Act, (Chapter 621 of the Laws of 2000). This program controls and reduces the release of air pollutants from heavy duty diesel-powered motor vehicles by testing and requiring the repair of vehicles that are malfunctioning, poorly or improperly maintained, or have been subject to emission-related tampering.

  • An Alternative Fuels Technology Center championed during budget negotiations by the Assembly was established in 1997 at the former Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, New York, to serve as a catalyst for technology development.

    Government Actions

    Several State agencies have programs that aid companies in the research and development (R & D) of cleaner heavy-duty fuels and technologies, while other agencies have fleets that are testing and gradually incorporating promising technologies for use in State activities.

  • Dear Friends:

    The Commission had a busy and challenging year in 2002, focusing on heavy-duty vehicle emissions which cause air quality problems in the Greater Metropolitan New York Area. Most heavy-duty vehicles burn diesel fuel, creating emissions that have been linked to serious health effects.

    The good news is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has adopted regulations mandating significant reduction of diesel emissions starting in the year 2004. Many vehicle and fuel technologies already exist that lower these emissions, and more are in development. The bad news is that it will still take time and money to replace older, more polluting vehicles, and many new technologies will take years to reach the marketplace.

    To understand these issues further, this Commission and the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation chaired by Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli, held a hearing on May 8, 2002. The hearing brought together experts from industry, government, and environmental groups to discuss heavy-duty clean vehicle fuels and technologies, and New York State’s efforts to promote them. This newsletter will present the issues that emerged at the hearing, and what steps the Assembly can take to promote new technologies. Finally, the newsletter will highlight a package of bills that I sponsored to promote cleaner vehicle and fuel technologies that passed the Assembly this session.

    signature Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr.
    Vice-Chair, Commission on Critical Transportation Choices

    Exhaust Control Devices

    The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City has committed to retrofitting all of its diesel buses with advanced particulate controls by the end of 2003. The Department of Environmental Conservation is working with the MTA to evaluate the use of particulate filters or catalyzed particulate filters (CRT) in conjunction with ultra low sulfur diesel fuel for long haul vehicles. The trap oxidizer or particulate filter can reduce particulate matter emissions by 80 to greater than 90 percent, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions by greater than 90 percent, and toxic hydrocarbon emissions up to 90 percent.

    The Department of Transportation (DOT) is working with Cummings Incorporated, one of the largest engine manufacturers in New York State, to test an alternate emissions technology that would work more beneficially for shorter trips. A diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) is not as dependent on constant engine temperature to be effective. It can be used with ultra low sulfur diesel fuel to achieve significant benefits in emissions reductions — less than CRT but still significant. DOCs are capable of reducing particulate matter emissions 20 to 50 percent carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions greater than 90 percent, and toxic hydrocarbon emissions greater than 70 percent.

    In some applications, catalyst and trap technologies can be combined to provide even greater control and can be used in combination with engine management techniques, to provide significant control of both particulates and NOx. Emerging technologies for the reduction of oxides of nitrogen or NOx are: lean NOx catalysts; exhaust gas recirculation (EGR); and, selective catalytic reduction (SGR). Lean NOx catalysts can reduce NOx emissions 5 to 15 percent. EGR is capable of reducing NOx emissions greater than 40 percent.

    Advanced Vehicle Technologies

    The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Advanced Vehicle Technology Development Program supports New York firms in developing advanced energy and pollution reduction technologies for national and international markets, emphasizing technologies that have the potential to meet the State’s needs. About $2 million is provided annually to cost-share projects. The New York Power Authority also implements R&D programs with a focus on AFVs.

    NYSERDA is sponsoring the development of duel fuel technology which is an innovative approach that enables a diesel engine to operate predominantly on natural gas and at the same time uses a small amount of liquid diesel fuel.

    Advanced Fuel Technologies

    NOCO Energy, a New York State petroleum business, has received a grant from NYSERDA to do a feasibility study of the operability of biodiesel blend with low sulfur diesel currently available. Biodiesel is a fuel made primarily from the oils and fats of plants. Although it can be used as a straight replacement to diesel, it can also be blended with regular diesel fuel. The blend of biodiesel can be as low as 20 percent biodiesel, 80 percent diesel. When used as a replacement fuel for diesel or blending component or additive for premium diesel, biodiesel substantially reduces harmful emissions without sacrificing performance and efficiency.

    Truck Idling

    EPA provided a grant to Consolidated Edison and the Clean Air Communities (CAC), a non-profit enterprise committed to implementing air pollution reduction and energy efficiency strategies in low-income New York City communities that are disproportionately affected by air pollution, to establish the Hunts Point Market Truck Stop Electrification Project (TSE Project), the first operational anti-idling advanced electrification project in the country. The project consists of installing 30 electrified bays at the Market, one of the largest produce and meat markets in the world, to reduce the impact of diesel exhaust. Trucks would be able to use pioneering technology to provide electricity to run air conditioning and heat, keep the engine warm, power appliances, and maintain battery charge. The TSE Project is expected to eliminate more than 2,300 tons of air pollution annually in the Hunts Point residential community.

    According to the New York State Truck Association, the trucking industry plays a major role in the New York State economy. In 1999, 549,941 people in New York State were employed in trucking occupations. The average wage paid to trucking industry workers was $37,089, and the total annual payroll was $20.4 billion. This enormous payroll spurs on economic activity in the form of taxes, consumer spending, personal investment and savings, and profits to state businesses which, in turn, generates more growth and economic activity.

    Trucks deliver freight for 24,740 manufacturing companies, supply goods to 105,390 retail stores, and stock 46,460 wholesale trade firms. Hospitals, schools, and construction firms all rely on trucks to deliver food, supplies, and equipment.

    What Pollutants Are Emitted By Diesel Engines?

    Diesel powered systems emit carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulate matter (PM). Diesel produces only small proportions of the first three emission types but does produce significant amounts of NOx and PM which provide great cause for public concern.

  • Nitrogen Oxides (NOx): The extreme heat associated with diesel combustion generates more NOx than cooler burning engine types. NOx reacts in the atmosphere to form ground level ozone (smog) and contributes to acid rain.
  • Particulate Matter (PM): The low level of oxygen in diesel combustion zones inhibits the complete combustion of diesel fuel resulting in the emission of soot (unburned carbon from fuel) also known as particulate matter (PM). Uncontrolled diesel vehicles emit 30 to 70 times more particulate matter than gasoline vehicles equipped with catalytic converters.

  • What Are The Health Impacts Of Diesel Emissions?

    Despite progress made in vehicle emissions reduction, diesel trucks still remain a significant source of emissions.

  • Scientific evidence demonstrates that diesel contaminants pose significant health risks; a large body of research indicates that diesel exhaust is a toxic air contaminant that is a likely human carcinogen.
  • Ground-level ozone or smog is created when NOx and VOCs combine in the presence of heat and sunlight. Ozone is a powerful oxidant, capable of destroying human lung and airway tissues. Smog causes a range of human pulmonary and respiratory health effects., including chest pain, coughing, and shortness of breath and increased susceptibility to bacterial infections — particularly in children, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system.
  • According to the Health Effects Institute, more than 98 percent of the particles emitted from diesel engines are fine particles that have been found to impair lung function, aggravate respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and emphysema and are associated with premature deaths.

    According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report "No Breathing in the Aisles" ( January 2001) children are the most susceptible to health effects of diesel exhaust exposure as a result of the child’s developing body and lungs, narrower airways, faster metabolism and faster breathing rate. Children make up only 25 percent of the population but represent 40 percent of all asthma cases.

    In a unique study by the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in 1999, researchers found that low-income, predominantly minority neighborhoods pose a far greater risk for children than more affluent communities. Rates of hospitalization for asthma incidence was 21 times higher for low-income areas.

  • What Are The New Federal Emission Standards For Diesel?

    The 1997 Clean Air Act established specific technology-forcing requirements for controlling diesel emissions. In the early 1980s, EPA established regulations for NOx standards starting in 1985 and particulate standards in 1988 for heavy-duty trucks and buses. These standards were further tightened by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Because of these standards, emissions from ten trucks today are equivalent to those of one truck ten years ago.

    In 1997, EPA again promulgated new air standards for ground level ozone (smog) and particulates (soot). Starting in 2004, federal emission standards for new heavy-duty trucks and buses will require a 50 percent reduction in tailpipe emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), and HCs which cause soot and smog. A 95 percent reduction of NOx and 90 percent reduction of PM emissions will be required in 2007. These 2007 standards will require new pollution control devices, and will follow the mid-2006 introduction of low-sulfur diesel fuel (capped at 15 parts-per-million) throughout the nation.

    What Additional Steps Could the State Take To Reduce Diesel Emissions and Encourage Alternative Fuels and Vehicle Technologies?

    Witnesses who testified at the Commission’s hearing in May suggested several courses of action to help improve air quality and help the transportation industry comply with new emission levels. The Commission will review the following proposals over the coming year:

  • Increasing tax benefits for use of new fuels and clean vehicle technologies: exempting heavy-duty vehicles that use reduced sulfur diesel, biodiesel, LNG, or other alternatives that meet emissions goals from the ton mile tax; developing tax incentives for companies that retrofit or replace pre-1992 equipment with 2002 or newer; and subsidizing the cost of the pricing differential for ultra low sulfur diesel fuel versus conventional diesel fuel.
  • Development of a comprehensive program to support retrofitting current school bus fleets and purchasing new, cleaner school buses. The program could provide grants or low-interest loans to buy natural gas, battery electric, hybrid electric, alternative fuel and other advanced technology buses or to retrofit existing buses (on the road for 10, 12, or 15 years) with low sulfur diesel and a particular trap.
  • Improvement of the rail system for both passenger and commercial transport. Rail transport produces less pollution than trucking per ton of freight moved.
  • Promotion of the production and sale of biodiesel fuel in New York State. Biodiesel is the first and only alternate fuel to successfully meet the tier one and tier two requirements of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. The development of renewable resources in NYS would provide new economic opportunities for farmers and create many new jobs. Legislation was suggested to require the use of a two percent soy material in all diesel sold in the State.
  • Development of a program to consolidate and augment existing policies to encourage clean vehicles in NYS. The program could establish and track progress towards state goals for advanced vehicle technologies and statewide fuel economy; implement market-based programs to complement the new federal standards for heavy duty vehicles; include state procurement policies for fleets and transportation services that favor super efficient or advanced technology vehicles; and implement a registration fee system based on fuel economy which favors advanced fuel technology, alternative fuel, and both light and heavy duty vehicles.
  • Repeal the ban on transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a possible alternative for diesel fuel in some applications. Adoption of federal safety standards established by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) — which govern storage and liquefication of natural gas — was proposed. By adopting these standards, the state could have liquefied natural gas facilities up and operating in less than a year once the legislation is passed.
  • Development of an incentive program to reduce congestion, e.g., congestion pricing or value pricing on major entrances into and out of NYC. Crossing the Hudson River into Manhattan could cost a dollar less at an off-peak hour.
  • Promotion of a Commuter’s Choice package of incentives similar to Transit Check programming in New York. An employer could subsidize or pay for the transit costs of their employees and then receive a tax break for doing so. An existing federal tax credit allows employers to write off a hundred dollars a month per employee in subsidized transit costs.

  • photo Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr. (left) and Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli hear testimony at a public hearing sponsored by the Commission on May 8, 2002, in Albany.

    2002 State Legislation

    Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr. worked with the Speaker and other Assemblymembers to develop a package of clean air legislation that passed the Assembly this year.

  • Income and Franchise Tax Credits (A.11749, Rules — Farrell, Tonko, Matusow, Hoyt, Diaz, Destito) — This new law addresses the issue of fuel economy and the environmental problems associated with motor vehicles by extending current state tax credits for alternative fuel vehicles for another year and expanding eligibility for the incentive to include the purchase of hybrid vehicles. It provides an income and franchise tax credit of $2,000 per vehicle for the purchase of "qualified hybrid vehicles". A hybrid vehicle is a non-electric motor vehicle which draws energy from both an internal combustion engine and an energy storage device. The vehicle must also use a regenerative braking system which uses waste energy to charge the energy storage device that provides propulsion energy. (Chapter 597, Laws of 2002)

  • Sulfur Content in Diesel Fuel (A.10130, Silver, DiNapoli, Brodsky, Colton, Cymbrowitz, Glick, Gottfried, Grannis, Nolan, Sanders, Diaz, Jacobs ) — Diesel exhaust particles, a large source of particulate matter, have been linked to asthma attacks, heart problems and lung disease. This legislation addresses concerns raised after September 11, in relation to the hundreds of trucks used each day at the Ground Zero site and in other New York City areas, by requiring the Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt regulations for the control of sulfur content in diesel fuel in particulate matter of 10 microns or less in the New York City area. (Passed Assembly, Died in Senate Environmental Conservation)

  • Regulating Motor Fuel Content (A.11027A, Rules — DiNapoli, Grannis, Glick, Diaz, Colton, M. Cohen, Cymbrowitz, Gianaris, E. Sullivan, Sweeney, Weisenberg ) — There is a significant health threat posed by the combustion of gasoline, diesel fuel and home heating oil. Because of the high sulfur content in these fuels, air emissions from engines that burn those fuels contribute to poor air quality. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA regulations require the use of low sulfur fuels by mid-year 2006. This legislation would require the Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt regulations prohibiting any person from manufacturing or selling gasoline, diesel fuel or home heating oil that does not meet requirements for reduced sulfur content by the end of 2005. (Passed Assembly, Died in Senate Rules)

  • After the legislature adjourned for the summer, California passed a law to further limit the emissions of greenhouse gases, primarily targeting carbon dioxide (CO2). The federal Clean Air Act authorizes the states to adopt EPA standards or California standards on air emissions. California standards are often more stringent, and New York State frequently opts to adopt them. Assemblymember Diaz co-sponsored a bill to implement this change in the coming session.

  • Reduction of Greenhouse Gases (A.11895, Rules-DiNapoli, Diaz, Colton, Englebright, Grannis) – Current federal emissions standards are not sufficient to address public health and environmental concerns. This legislation will aid in protecting air quality by adopting more stringent standards for cost effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (primarily CO2) from motor vehicles. It would apply to motor vehicles that are of the 2009 model-year and any model-year thereafter, which are sold, offered for sale, leased or offered for lease in New York State.

  • For additional information, contact:

    Ruben Diaz, Jr.

    black square

    Room 419 LOB
    Albany, NY 12248
    (518) 455-5514

    black square

    1163 Manor Avenue
    Bronx, NY 10472
    (718) 893-0202

    black square

    Legislative Commission on
    Critical Transportation Choices
    (518) 455-4031

    NYS Assembly seal

    New York State Assembly
    [ Welcome Page ] [ Commission Updates ]