On May 16, the eve of executive budget hearings in the New York City Council, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) including the New York City-based Energy Vision, the New York League of Conservation Voters, WE ACT for Environmental Justice and prominent health experts called on the city to stop buying heavy-duty diesel vehicles for its municipal fleets and to adopt alternatives to diesel that are available today.
Specifically, they asked the city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to:
- Immediately stop allocating funds for purchase of new heavy-duty diesel trucks and MTA diesel buses.
- Focus new heavy-duty vehicle purchases on the best diesel alternatives.
- Make the necessary capital expenditures on infrastructure and fleet garage modifications to support implementation of these alternatives.
In accordance with the executive budget hearings, Energy Vision released a new report, “Ending the Diesel Era: Cleaner Fleets for a Healthier New York City” that stresses the need to get off diesel and adopt RNG.
According to the report, diesel exhaust is a major source of climate-changing and health-damaging emissions. London has already stopped procuring new diesel vehicles, and other major cities are restricting or eliminating them, the report says. Many U.S. heavy-duty fleets have already converted to RNG. Nationwide, 60 percent of refuse trucks on order are natural gas models which can run on RNG.
However, New York City's municipal fleets have yet to adopt RNG. They continue to rely on diesel heavy-duty vehicles, and their budgets call for buying more in the years ahead, according to Energy Vision.
"That deserves to end now," said Joanna Underwood, founder and board member of Energy Vision, "and the budget process could help make it happen. The City Council could play a leadership role by framing its budget guidelines so they encourage city agencies to seize the opportunities they have to deploy better alternatives."