PHILADELPHIA (September 12, 2019) – Today, Councilmember Reynolds Brown (At-Large) introduced a bill that would ban the use of heavy fuel oils in the City of Philadelphia. Fuel oils are assigned numbers according to their weight. Number 2 is “light” fuel oil and numbers 4, 5, and 6 are “heavy” fuel oils. Heavier fuel oils contain more sulfur and burning No. 4 and heavier fuel oils release more pollutants than their lighter counterparts. Those pollutants include particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur oxides and are linked to asthma, heart disease and lung disease.
Councilwoman Reynolds Brown stated, “Switching to cleaner burning fuels will improve the city’s air quality and contribute to the city’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The citizens of Philadelphia deserve to breathe clean air.”
According to the bill, heavy oil use will be phased out over the next five years. Facilities that have already purchased and stockpiled heavy fuel oil have until July 2024 to use that oil. The deadline can be extended through 2029 on a case-by-case basis. Use of number 2 oil will continue to be allowed in the city, along with natural gas and clean sources of energy like solar and wind power.
“The proposed landmark ban on commercial heavy fuel oil in Philadelphia will lead to noticeable improvements in air quality that will reduce harmful soot and sulfur pollution as well as carbon pollution that fuels the climate crisis,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Esq., Executive Director and Chief Counsel of the Clean Air Council. “This is the exact type of policy needed throughout all sectors of our economy so that we can rapidly phase out the use of all fossil fuels.”
In 2011, New York City began the process of phasing out heavy oils, which contributed to 86% of the soot pollution in the city. The new rules in New York have been associated with significant improvements to air quality in the city. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown concludes by stating, “If the largest big city in America figured out how to address this carbon foot print issue, surely the smart policy stakeholders of Philadelphia can do the same.”
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