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New York Mandates Cleaner Heating Oil

July 21, 2010

It’s official: New York State is drastically reducing sulfur in home heating oil.

After some uncertainty, Governor David A. Paterson on Tuesday signed into law a bill that limits the sulfur content of No. 2 heating oil to no more than 15 parts per million starting in July 2012, down from the current range of 2,000 to 15,000 parts per million.

No. 2 oil is the most commonly used by household across the state, so the ultra-low sulfur oil is expected to significantly reduce air pollution that causes health problems like asthma and can shorten lives.

“Reducing the levels of sulfur in heating fuel oil will improve the health of New Yorkers and our environment, and will help consumers cut their energy bills through reduced fuel use and lower maintenance costs,” Governor Paterson said in a statement. “The energy, health and environmental benefits of this legislation are indisputable.”

For much of Tuesday, though, some environmental groups worried that a last-minute glitch would torpedo the long-awaited bill.

It turns out that the Department of Tax and Finance viewed the lower sulfur fuel as “enhanced diesel fuel,” which is taxed at about 40 cents per gallon, which would pass on higher costs to consumers. In the end, the governor signed the bill and said that the legislature now needs to pass an amendment to ensure that heating fuel oil maintains its tax-exempt status.

“The bottom line? We’re saving lives,” said Peter Iwanowicz, the governor’s deputy secretary for the environment. “It’s a very big win for public health, the environment and the consumer.”

Click here for the full story from the New York Times

National Oilheat Research Alliance ECC is funded in part through the National Oilheat Research Alliance.