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Diesel Emissions Reduction Legislation Hailed As Public Health Policy

 

Albany, N.Y.-- The New York State Senate has given final legislative approval to legislation co-sponsored by Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira) making New York the first state in the nation to require thousands of state-owned or operated diesel-powered vehicles to be retrofitted with cutting-edge technology that significantly reduces diesel emissions.

Winner said that the approval of the "Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2006" represents an important public health and environmental protection policy.

"It’s an important and timely public health and environmental protection initiative, and a victory for clean air in New York State," said Winner. "We’re also going to showcase how Corning Incorporated’s emissions products can positively impact environmental quality and public health in New York State, nationally and around the globe."

The Act's approval was hailed by Corning Incorporated officials.

Thomas R. Hinman, senior vice president and general manager of Corning Diesel Technologies, noted, "The passage of the New York State Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2006 is a significant development for the cause of clean air and for Corning Incorporated. Over a three-year period, this will make over 20,000 vehicles eligible for diesel retrofit systems, which could include Corning emissions products developed and manufactured in the local area."

Hinman added, "By making this significant step, New York State is demonstrating its commitment to clean air. We appreciate Senator George Winner’s efforts in leading the passage of this important legislation."

Corning has invested over $300 million in its Diesel Technologies Plant, which began operating in late 2003 and currently employs about 400 individuals in the manufacturing of particulate filters and substrates used in diesel retrofit systems that remove soot from diesel exhaust emissions.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), diesel exhaust particles are a likely lung cancer agent. In New York State, diesel exhaust is also a prime contributor to airborne fine particle pollution linked to premature deaths, asthma attacks and cardiovascular disease. Diesel exhaust also significantly contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone.

Nearly ninety-percent of New Yorkers live in an area that fails to meet federal health standards for ozone.

New York State consumes over 48 million gallons of diesel fuel each year and owns or operates through contract thousands of diesel-powered vehicles. By requiring that both the state fleet of heavy duty vehicles and the fleets of businesses doing work for the state to use the best retrofit technology and ultra low sulfur fuel, the state will address the public health threat posed by combustion of diesel fuel.

Specifically the legislation Winner co-sponsors will require all heavy duty diesel vehicles that are state-owned or working on state projects to be retrofitted with the new trap systems that effectively control diesel tailpipe emissions.

Winner said that adopting the Act will allow the state to access federal funding through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program (CMAQ), a program designed to support state efforts to reduce traffic congestion or improve air quality. New York State has underutilized available CMAQ funding over the past several years. Federal funding could absorb up to 80% of the cost of retrofitting New York’s diesel-powered vehicles, according to Winner. The state would also achieve significant health care cost savings through the adoption of the Act.

The legislation now goes to Governor George Pataki to be signed into law.