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New York City Councilmembers Call on Mayor de Blasio to Adopt Renewable Natural Gas

Energy Vision praised a joint letter from New York City Councilmembers urging Mayor de Blasio to “show environmental leadership by exploring the use of biomethane fuel.”  Biomethane is another name for renewable natural gas (RNG), a clean-burning alternative fuel made from organic waste.

Twelve members of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus signed the letter, which argues “Ultra-low emissions biomethane could be used both by NYC’s surface transit and in our City fleets, further aligning the City’s procurement practices with our climate and clean air goals.”

“Those goals and practices need better alignment, and the letter shows leadership in flagging that,” said Matt Tomich, president of the NGO Energy Vision, which released the letter.  “New York City pledged to achieve the best air quality of any major US city by 2050 and to cut GHGs 80 percent from its municipal fleet vehicles by 2035.  But City fleets plan to keep buying diesel heavy vehicles, which would lock in diesel emissions for years.”

Energy Vision issued a report last month finding that continued reliance on diesel for municipal heavy vehicles would prevent the City from reaching those goals, and that RNG offered by far the best fuel alternative for heavy vehicles. Last month health experts and public interest groups including Energy Vision called on New York City to stop procuring diesels, and adopt superior alternatives, especially CNG vehicles fueled with RNG.

RNG is the lowest-carbon fuel available and can be net carbon-negative over its lifecycle. New York City generates 1.2 million tons of food waste annually, which could produce enough RNG to fuel all heavy-duty vehicles in New York City fleets.

Energy Vision says trucks and buses equipped with Cummins Near-Zero natural gas engines, which can run on ultra-low carbon RNG, generate only a tenth of the health-damaging particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions compared to trucks and buses running on diesel.

Energy Vision experts testified on these issues at recent City Council budget hearings. At a May 17 hearing, Councilman Antonio Reynoso and Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia discussed the possibility of procuring refuse trucks equipped with Near Zero engines and fueling them at existing natural gas refueling stations.