Volume 73, Number 33 | December 17 - 23, 2003

Gerson clean construction bill wins approval in City Council

By Elizabeth O’Brien

The City Council passed a bill on Monday that would dramatically cut the diesel emissions of construction equipment used on city-contracted sites below 14th St.

The bill requires construction contractors to use ultra low-sulfur diesel fuel and to retrofit their cranes, bulldozers and other equipment to accommodate the change. The law is the first of its kind in the country, according to environmentalists.

“This is absolutely groundbreaking legislation,” said Richard Kassel of the National Resource Defense Council.

Councilmember Alan Gerson was the main sponsor of the bill, which, if approved by the mayor, would be implemented Downtown first and then would expand citywide after a year. Contractors working on city construction sites would have to cut their diesel emissions from 3,000 parts per million down to 15 parts per million, or 30 parts per million if existing technology doesn’t support 15.

The bill would bring immediate health benefits to communities coping with excessive construction, Kassel said. While much of the construction at the World Trade Center site is not overseen by the city, environmentalists and lawmakers said they expect that the law will have a ripple effect throughout the construction industry.

“I call it a holiday present to the lungs,” Gerson said.


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