New Report Finds Dirty, Outdated Boilers Sending More Pollution into New York City Air than All Car and Truck Traffic

Assemblymember Dan Quart Secures funding for building owners to convert to clean boilers

New York, NY – Today, Assemblymember Dan Quart released Financing Fresh Air, his report documenting the harm done to the city’s air pollution by a number of residential heating boilers still burning the lowest quality fuels. Assemblymember Quart hopes to create a reliable stream of state funding to aid those building owners who want to upgrade their boilers to operate on cleaner fuels.

“Former Mayor Bloomberg took great steps to reduce our city’s air pollution, and while key improvements have been made, there is, without question, a need for more policy to secure clean air in our city,” Dan Quart, New York State Assemblymember said. “It is undeniable that air pollution can directly result in lowered productivity, adverse health impacts and even death. Incentivizing property owners to convert these outdated boilers is a smart way we as a city can curb our air pollution. I’m proud to announce that this year’s enacted state budget includes my provision requiring the state to direct $15 million of funding to boiler retrofits across the city.”

“Both the state and the city should be doing all they can to incentivize heating-specific ideas that will allow for more choices for New York City residential heating customers,” said Nancy Ploeger, President of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “By coupling financial investment with more focus in renewable energy research, we can slow down air pollution at an accelerated rate. Lowering our emission levels is an investment we need to make not only for the protection of our environment, but for the health, well-being and productivity of our city’s residents.”

“We applaud Assemblymember Quart for being a prominent advocate for healthy lungs and healthy air,” said Jeff Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “To ensure New Yorkers have healthier air to breathe, we must ensure that the city's dirtiest heating oil gets completely phased out. We strongly support innovative measures, such as financial incentives, to rid the city of these pollutant-laden heating oils and encourage innovation in clean, renewable heating technologies.”

Charlie Niebling, Chair of the Policy Committee of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council and President of the New York Biomass Energy Alliance said, “We applaud Assemblymember Quart’s efforts to support clean energy across the state, while also being aware of the very real problems of affordability. This research demonstrates how essential government funding is to incentivize individual energy decisions that will result in better air quality for all of us. Biomass is a vital piece of this puzzle and we are pleased that the Assemblymember recognizes the importance of biomass and other renewable resources in the clean energy equation.”

The report asserts that the 10,000 residential buildings that run on the lowest quality fuels (#4 and #6 oil) produce higher amounts of harmful emissions than all car and truck traffic throughout the city combined. Funding for helpful programs like NYSERDA’s Multifamily Carbon Emissions Reduction Program has stopped, leaving more than half of those boilers throughout the city unconverted. This report is a call to action to push forward better and more comprehensive policies to combat this problem.

Solutions from the Report

  • More expedient and effective action must be taken to drive down our air pollution levels. Mayor Bloomberg’s original plan intended to slowly phase out old boilers and burners but would not make it compulsory for all building owners to burn cleaner fuel alternatives until 2030, unnecessarily maintaining elevated levels of fine particulates in our air.
  • Make boiler conversions more easily accessible to building owners who want to retrofit their boilers for cleaner fuels. Create budget funding for financial incentives offered to building owners who convert from #4 or #6 oil to a cleaner fuel source (#2 oil, natural gas, or a renewable source).
  • While eliminating these harmful fuel sources from our city is a great first step, it does not solve the long-term need for more clean fuel options for consumers. Pair the incentives for boiler conversions with more research and innovation in renewable forms of energy for residential heating and power, because while #2 oil and natural gas are both less emissive than lower quality oils like #4 and #6, they are not fit for long-term energy sustainability.