From News Hub host and colleague Simon Constable:
Just in time for Earth Day, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday he wants phase out the very filthiest furnaces that are used to heat apartments. Under the plan, in two decades in New York City there would be no boilers that use the two dirtiest types of fuel – No.4 and No. 6 heating oil.
Last night I heard a commentator on the radio suggest that it wasn’t fair to introduce such a measure as the cost of switching out the boiler equipment would be disproportionately fall on the poor. The truth is the cost of changing heating equipment would fall on the richest residents of the city: Those living on the fashionable Upper West Side and Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Here’s a column I wrote last year:
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–Manhattan’s expensive Upper West Side, often criticized as the bastion of northeastern liberal “elites,” is also the home to the highest concentration of the filthiest home-heating furnaces in New York City.
That’s according to a recently published report titled, “The Bottom of the Barrel,” that pinpoints the location of furnaces by fuel-type through the whole of the Big Apple. It was commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund and the U.S. Green Building Council, both respected organizations in the green arena.
It isn’t just the UWS that is pumping smog from the basement. Not far behind on the dirty-list is the so-called “billionaires’ row” on the Upper East Side.
It is in those locations in New York, the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side, that you’ll find the highest count of furnaces fueled using a black sludge that kicks off high concentrations of sulfur-dioxide and nitrous-oxide.
Known as No. 6 heating oil, it emits a far higher level of those pollutants than other commonly used heating fuels such as natural gas, and No. 2 and No. 4 oils.
As a result of this sludge use, a mere 1% of structures citywide contribute 87% of soot pollution that is linked to heating oil, the report says.
It gets worse.
“Overall…heating systems release 50% more soot (PM) and 17 times more sulfur dioxides (SO2) than cars and trucks on New York City’s roads,” the report states.
When I mentioned this smog outrage to colleagues who live in the Upper West Side, they pointed to the age of the buildings–quite old–as the likely reason for the use of these pollution-pumping furnaces.
If only it were that simple. The truth is that furnaces need to be replaced every few decades so that a century-old apartment building will likely have seen a number of replacement furnace installations.
Money may be a more likely reason. Turns out that burning black sludge is economic if dirty. No. 6 oil costs $15.14 per million British thermal units, compared with $20.49 for the less polluting No. 2 oil, according to the report.
How about that.