For decades, western Queens has borne the burden of providing more than 50 percent of the city’s power and, therefore, long had an overabundance of power plants. But the residents of Astoria and Long Island City will now be able to take a breath of fresher air after the City Council passed a bill proposed by Councilman Costa Constantinides this week that requires power plant operators to end the use of dirty fuels.
Western Queens power plants currently use #4 and #6 fuel oils, which Constantinides said are among the dirtiest fuel oils and have been linked to such air pollutants as nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, methane and particulate matter. Constantinides’ bill would provide two options: If plant operators adhere to a mandated 2020 deadline of eliminating #6 fuel oil, they must stop using #4 fuel oil by 2025, which is five years earlier than the mandated 2030 deadline. Or, plant operators can choose to keep using #6 fuel oil until 2022, but must also stop using #4 fuel oil by that time and immediately transition to cleaner oil.
We commend the City Council for voting to pass this common-sense legislation. At the federal level, environmental regulations are coming under attack, so it is heartening to see that city leaders are doing their best to counter such actions.
Over the years, western Queens’ power plants have been found to contribute to increased local asthma rates, hospitalizations and ER visits that exceed the average across the rest of the borough. The plant’s locations have especially affected the large number of residents living in public housing in western Queens.
Queens has long been a borough of overburdened neighborhoods, whether it’s the nonstop airplane noise plaguing northeast Queens or the overabundance of homeless shelters and waste-storage facilities in southeast Queens. The City Council has made the right choice by working to improve the air quality in a section of the borough that has long been overburdened by poor air quality.