Costa introduces bill to increase biofuel use

By Bill Parry

Continuing his efforts to make New York City more sustainable, City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) introduced legislation last week which would increase the use of biodiesel in home heating oil. The bill would mandate that home heating oil contain a 5 percent blend of biofuel by October 2016 and create a framework to raise that blend every five years until we reach 20 percent by 2030.

The current mandate, Local Law 43 of 2010, required home heating oil to contain a 2 percent blend by 2012.

“As we move closer to our citywide commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, we must take advantage of all opportunities to get us there,” Constantinides said. “Increasing biofuel in home heating oil will make our city more sustainable and healthy. Buildings produce over 75 percent of our emissions and this bill will help reduce those emissions in an innovative way. Increasing our biofuel use to a 5 percent blend in home heating oil would be the equivalent of taking 45,000 cars off the road. Biodiesel also brings good jobs to our local economy.”

Constantinides added that if the city were to reach a 20 percent biofuel content in home heating oil by 2030, carbon emissions could be reduced by 40 percent, equivalent to taking 300,000 cars off the road.

The biodiesel industry supports more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in New York. Biodiesel is sourced from used cooking oil from more than 20,000 restaurants throughout the city. It is also made from soybean plants using only the oil portion of the soybean — the protein portion remains available for food.

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy have also discovered a way to produce biofuel out of algae and are exploring ways to make it on a large scale.

Calling the bill “environmentally foward-thinking,” John Maniscalco, the chief executive officer of the New York Oil Heating Association, said, “We are now in our third winter at a B2 bio-fuel standard and it has been an unequivocal success. Now it’s time to move on to a B5 blend and inch closer to an eventual goal of B20.”

Meanwhile on another front, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) introduced a resolution in support of a tax credit for New Yorkers who adopt their pets. The resolution calls on the state Legislature to introduce and pass a bill, making New York the first to offer such a credit in the United States.

The resolution asks for a $100 tax credit for each taxpayer who adopts a dog or a cat from a shelter.

“Encouraging New Yorkers with a tax credit to adopt pets is not only compassionate but would bring relief to our overburdened animal shelters and to animal lovers who want to adopt but are wary of the initial costs,” Ferreras said. “In addition, the companionship of a pet has proven health and social benefits for adults and children”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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