City passes Queens councilman’s bill to study how to power NYC ferries with renewable fuel

Photos courtesy of NYC Ferry

A new bill passed in the City Council on Dec. 19, 2017 will require that a two-year study be completed to determine how feasible it would be to use renewable fuels and technology to power the city’s ferries.

Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would expand ferry service to include routes in Astoria, Rockaway and South Brooklyn. Now, a new bill aims to make this expansion more environmentally friendly.

Introduced by Astoria Councilman Costa Constantinides, Int. No. 54-A will result in a study to analyze what alternative fuels can be used to power the motorized watercrafts.

Alternative fuels like biodiesel and hybrid electric, battery electric and fuel-cell electric technologies will all be considered in the study, which should be completed no later than Dec. 31, 2019.

The study would also require a review of the types and classes of ferries used, their compatibility with the alternative fuels and alternative fuel technologies, the availability of the fuels and technologies and other issues such as storage and regulatory requirements.

The most commonly used fuel, petroleum diesel fuel, generates greenhouse gases when it is burned, as well as harmful pollutants such as sulfur dioxide. The exhaust released by petroleum fuel can also cause respiratory illnesses such as asthma and lung disease.

According to the Staten Island Advance, the Staten Island Ferry began to use liquefied natural gas to power one of its ferries in 2013 as opposed to low-sulfur diesel, which was done to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and cut fuel costs.

“Over the past four years, our city has made environmental protection a priority – whether through ending our reliance on fossil fuels, cleaning our air quality, building sustainable transit habits, or encouraging use of renewable energy,” Constantinides said in a statement. “Int. 54 will help increase use of renewable fuel in one of our city’s most sustainable transit options – our ferries. As use of our citywide ferry system has grown exponentially, we must innovate the type of energy we use to fuel the boats.”

Another bill introduced by Constantinides also passed City Council on Dec. 19. It requires power plant operators in the city to stop burning dirty grades of fuel oil to power their plants sooner than originally proposed.