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Thursday, June 30, 2011 Contact: Guillermo Martinez – 518-455-5844
Lawmaker: All Diesel Burning Buses Should be Banned, Converted to Use Natural Gas
Bronx Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera calls on all regional transportation authorities and school buses to be converted to compressed natural gas, proposes diesel ban
ALBANY, NEW YORK – (6/30/2011) --- Stating that New York State has some of the worst air pollution in the nation according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the highest pediatric asthma rates in the country, Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, Member of the Assembly Standing Committee on Health, today unveiled legislation that will require all diesel-burning public transportation and school buses to be retrofitted to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) by 2015 and bans the purchase of diesel-burning buses entirely. “We now have a situation where the cost of petroleum based fuels like gasoline and diesel fuel are becoming increasingly expensive and subject to price spikes influenced by political and economic instabilities in other parts of our world and not under the control of the United States,” she stated. “Its is a well known fact that compressed natural gas as a fuel source for our mass transportation is both cheaper and cleaner than diesel fuel. New York needs to wake up to the benefits of outlawing diesel powered mass transportation buses that continue to pollute our cities and damage the lungs of our fellow citizens.” Specifically, the legislation unveiled by Rivera will ban the purchase of any diesel-burning mass transit bus by 2013 and mandate the retrofitting of all diesel-burning yellow buses by 2015, with the exception of hybrid mass transit buses. According to Rivera, “There are over 10,000 emergency room visits yearly by asthmatic children in New York City alone because the cancer-causing pollution generated by dieselfuel burning buses serves as a trigger of asthma attacks and there are over two million New Yorkers suffering from respiratory diseases caused by pollution. We know the dangers of diesel to our environment and our bodies. With the available technology, we can replace and ban such fuel forever.” “In New York City alone, there are over 5,900 Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) buses but only about 970 are using compressed natural gas and virtually none operate in the Bronx which has the highest respiratory disease rates in all of New York,” declared Rivera. “Obviously we are not using the available technology and alternative fuel sources that can drastically reduce chronic respiratory disease rates and their high cost on our health care system.” New York State has over 55,000 diesel-burning yellow school buses which daily transport over 2.2 million children to and from school. “The dangers of the toxic exhaust from these buses have been well documented by the American Lung Association and researchers. Yet we have done nothing to mandate the use of clean fuel buses for the transportation of our children. There is something extremely wrong with this situation and millions of our children are in harms way,” Rivera stated.
Rivera’s legislation will also require all yellow bus fleets operated or contracted by school districts to retrofit their bus fleets by 2015 and bans the purchase of any diesel powered bus by January of 2013. In addition, Rivera’s legislation will allow school districts to use their yellow bus fleet hubs to serve as compressed natural gas refilling stations in an effort to help school districts across New York generate revenue. “Our laws are out of touch with the huge positive potential created by using new technologies. This legislation will help school districts save billions in transportation costs, improve air quality in communities and around schools, and improve the health of our children.” The proposed legislation will impact regional transportation authorities throughout New York State and all its major urban centers including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Rome/Utica, Capital Region, and the MTA service area. The technology to retrofit existing diesel-fuel fleets is available and affordable according to Rivera. ###