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January 2012 Archives

January 3, 2012

New York City Mayor Signs Several Laws Concerning Building Codes, PCBs and Bike Racks

On December 27, 2011, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law three bills that enacted recommendations of the New York City Green Codes Task Force. The bills are aimed at carrying out long-term municipal plans to reduce carbon emissions, improve air and water quality, and limit waste.

The first bill (Intro. No. 576-A) seeks to improve protection of water and sewer systems by requiring construction sites to collect concrete washout water for proper disposal. The second bill (Intro. No. 578-A) requires that new asphalt used in the city have a minimum of 30 percent recycled content. According to the city, this requirement will save about $2.3 million per year by reducing dumping fees and avoiding costs of new asphalt and will keep more than 66,000 tons of asphalt out of landfills. The third bill (Intro. No. 592-A), requires all new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units installed within the city to have filters that can keep out particles of 2.5 microns or more. According to the city, the bill is aimed at keeping soot from trucks and buses from entering indoor home and work environments, where people spend an estimated 90 percent of their time.

In addition, the Mayor signed two bills that address a long-running controversy over levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from fluorescent light ballasts, caulk, and other common construction materials in the city's school system. In January 2010, the City entered into an agreement with EPA to undertake a pilot study to develop a citywide approach to PCBs in schools. In February 2011, it announced a $708 million comprehensive energy efficiency plan to remove and replace lighting ballasts, reducing possible PCB exposure in schools and cutting annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 200,000 metric tons. The two bills codify many New York City Department of Education practices and protocols for notifying parents and communities about PCBs and lighting fixture replacements. The first bill (Intro. No. 563-A) requires the Department to notify school community members of PCB testing results and the status of the city's comprehensive replacement plan. The second bill(Intro. No. 566-A) requires progress updates to the New York City Council and the public.

Finally, the Mayor also signed a bill (Intro. No. 720-A) to add flexibility to regulations for bicycle storage in parking garages. The bill amends a 2009 law (Local Law 51) setting aside bicycle parking spaces based on a garage's vehicle capacity.

January 20, 2012

Report on RGGI Emissions Finds that 2011 Emissions Were 34 Percent Below Cap

On January 11, 2012, Environment Northeast released a report that found that carbon dioxide emissions in 2011 in states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative(RGGI)were far below the regional cap set by the program and are expected to stay below the cap for the foreseeable future.

According to the report, emissions from power plants in RGGI states in 2011 were expected to be 34 percent below the 188 million tons-per-year cap set by the program. According to the report, projected emissions of 124 million tons per year for 2011 would be the lowest since the program began in 2009. The report included actual emissions data for the first three quarters of 2011 and projected emissions data for the full year because final data will not be available until mid-2012. The program originally planned to keep the emissions cap at 188 million tons through 2014 and then lower it by 2.5 percent per year over the next four years.

The report attributed the lower emissions to declines in oil- and coal-fired electricity generation, increased generation from natural gas and renewable energy, and energy-efficiency programs. States participating in RGGI include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. New Jersey withdrew from the initiative at the end of 2011.

About January 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Envirosphere in January 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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