Westchester Board of Legislators Votes for Cleaner Air

The Healthy Air Task Force, applauds the County Board's unanimous vote in favor of a bill that will reduce diesel air pollution in Westchester. If signed into law by the County Executive, the bill
will incorporate "best available" clean-diesel technology and cleaner diesel fuel (15 ppm sulfur content) in all diesel vehicles owned by or operated on behalf of the County.

This bill will help safeguard air quality for schools, neighborhoods and business districts where construction equipment, trucks, buses and other diesel vehicles emit pollution.

"The Healthy Air Task Force commends the County Board for voting in favor of cleaner air in Westchester County," said Adiel Gavish, program director for the Federated Conservationists of Westchester County (FCWC). She added, "This legislation will especially benefit those most greatly affected by air pollution, our children, the elderly and those with respiratory or heart ailments."

"This bill is a breath of fresh air for everyone who lives and works in Westchester County," said Andy Darrell, regional director of Environmental Defense. "Diesel machinery is essential to our economy but creates soot and smog that is a direct threat to health. Cost-effective technologies can cut diesel pollution by 90%. If signed into law, this bill will attract the best available clean-diesel technologies to Westchester's municipal fleets and Westchester will be leading the way toward a comprehensive, regional commitment to clean diesel."

"Rick Lepkowski, Westchester Regional Vice President of the American Cancer Society applauds the Westchester County Legislature for all the work it did in conjunction with the Healthy Air Task Force. Implementation of this bill is a step toward providing a healthier environment for the citizens of Westchester County."

"The passage of this legislation directly benefits the health of the children, ecosystem and citizens of Westchester County and takes a step towards a cleaner, more sustainable future," said Emmett Pepper, program coordinator of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Background on Dangers of Diesel Pollution

Tailpipe pollution is the biggest local threat to Westchester County's air quality – over 75 percent of the cancer risk from air pollution in Westchester comes from a transportation-related source. Diesel exhaust is especially dangerous, spewing a toxic stew of more than 40 cancer-causing compounds into the air. Westchester County fails to meet the federal Environmental Protection Agency's basic healthy air standards for ozone and soot (fine particulate matter). Dirty diesel vehicles greatly contribute to high ozone and fine particulate matter levels.

The members of the Healthy Air Task Force came together to create the "Healthy Air Action Plan for Westchester", published in January 2005 and available on-line at:
http://www.environmentaldefense.org/documents/4274_HealthyAirWestchester.pdf

Cleaning up diesel pollution from municipal fleets and County-contracts was an essential recommendation of that Task Force.

"Non-road" diesel engines, like those used in construction equipment and commercial marine vessels, are often used for decades and emit more soot pollution than on-road cars and trucks combined. This is why it is vital to target existing diesel engines now by installing clean diesel technologies in combination with the use of cleaner fuel.
Cost-effective technologies for cleaning up dirty diesel engines are available now. For more information, please visit Environmental Defense's Cleaner Diesel Handbook at:
www.cleanerdieselhandbook.org

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