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New Diesel Emissions Reduction Law Hailed As Sound Public Health Policy

 

Corning, N.Y.-- Legislation co-sponsored in the New York State Senate this year by Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira) to establish the "Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2006," has been signed into law by Governor George Pataki.

"New York has been a national leader in promoting cleaner air, and with this new law, we are taking another important step to protect public health and our environment by reducing the amount of harmful pollution from diesel vehicles,”Pataki said.

Winner joined the governor,United States Congressman John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr.and State AssemblymanTom O'Marain Corninglate yesterday for an official bill-signing ceremony. The new law will require thousands of New York State-owned or operated diesel-powered vehicles to be retrofitted with cutting-edge technology that significantly reduces diesel emissions.

Winner said that the Act’s approval represents an important public health and environmental protection policy.

"This new law is an important and timely public health and environmental protection initiative," 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 world."

In 2005,Kuhl helpedsecure funding in the Federal Highway Bill for the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program, which provides financial support to states to help reduce traffic congestion orimprove air quality. This program will provide funding for up to 80 percent of the costs of implementingtailpipe emissions controls such as diesel exhaust retrofits.

“I worked last year in Congress to ensure that states put a priority on diesel retrofits when deciding how to distribute CMAQ funds,”Kuhl said. “I’m very glad to see that New York is leading the nation in making sure that CMAQ resources are used to fund diesel retrofits which will clean our air and make our environment healthier.”

Winner said that adopting the Act will allowNew Yorkto access the federal CMAQ funding.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.

Assemblyman Jim Bacalles said, “This new law is important not only because it will improve air quality and public health, but also because it will boost our local economy and underscore Corning Incorporated’s status as a leader in the field of emission control technology.”

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.

Peter F. Volanakis, chief operating officer, Corning Incorporated, said, “We applaud the efforts of Governor Pataki and other State officials in working together to bring the Diesel Emission Reduction Act for New York State to a reality. This legislation is fundamentally sound because it is very beneficial to the region, the economy, and most importantly, clean air.”

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.

Peter M. Iwanowicz, vice president of the American Lung Association of New York State, said, “Since diesel exhaust has been linked to premature death, lung cancer, asthma attacks and many other health ailments, this new law will improve public health and reduce health care costs for all.”

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 law co-sponsored by Winner 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.