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Cuomo Urged to Fund Law to Cut "Dirty Diesel"

The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act applies to state-owned and state contractor vehicles, but it hasn't yet received funding. (skeeze/Pixabay)
The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act applies to state-owned and state contractor vehicles, but it hasn't yet received funding. (skeeze/Pixabay)
October 31, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. – New York needs to fund its law to clean up dirty diesel emissions. That's the message public health and environmental advocates are sending to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act was signed into law 10 years ago, and was scheduled to take effect in 2010. But according to Caitlin O’Brien, environmental health associate with Environmental Advocates of New York, funding for the law has been left out of every state budget for the past six years.

"Ultimately, Gov. Cuomo, as the top elected official, really has a duty to lead on this issue, on the implementation of DERA,” O’Brien said.

The law mandates a reduction in emissions from the state's fleet of diesel vehicles, as well as those of contractors doing business with the state.

Diesel emissions contain particulate matter that O'Brien said can be especially harmful to children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems.

"It can cause asthma, it can trigger asthma attacks and it can even cause lung cancer,” O’Brien said. "This is some serious, dirty air that people are breathing, and it's really affecting communities."

More than 1.7 million New Yorkers suffer from asthma, which, according to the State Comptroller, costs taxpayers $1.3 billion a year to treat.

Gov. Cuomo has said that environmental justice is a high priority for his administration. But O'Brien said it's time for him to make that priority a reality.

"When you have kids literally breathing in dirty, polluted air that is making them sick, and it's happening on such a grand level, 10 years is far too long,” she said.

Public health and environmental advocacy groups issued a public letter asking the governor to include funding for full implementation of DERA in his next executive budget.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY