Governor Cuomo Slashes Pollution from Diesel Generators

New Yorkers will breathe a whole lot easier and healthier soon, thanks to new regulations finalized and put on the books yesterday by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The new regulations, set to take effect in May 2017, will finally limit dangerous air pollution—nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter, in particular—from thousands of existing dirty diesel electric generators across New York State. Their pollution is linked to a host of health and environmental problems, particularly in the communities of color and low-income areas where many of them are located. The pollution these generators emit contributes to smog and acid rain, and has been demonstrated to exacerbate and even cause asthma, respiratory failure, heart attacks, and premature deaths, among other health problems.

As we explained in a prior blog discussing the rule when it was first proposed, Governor Andrew Cuomo has shown personal leadership on this issue, directing the DEC to finalize these regulations. And appropriately so: New York City and many other counties across the Empire State are out of compliance with federal standards for ozone pollution, in part because of dirty diesel generators. (NOx is a principle ozone-pollution precursor.) “These new standards not only place New York at the forefront of reducing air pollution,” Governor Cuomo said yesterday, “but also further our efforts to encourage the development of renewable energy resources to both combat climate change and grow our economy.”

Without these new emissions limits, there was a risk that New York State’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative—which seeks to harness distributed electric generation to make our electric system cleaner, more affordable, and more reliable— could have inadvertently spurred distributed diesel generators as well. By setting rigorous pollution standards for diesel generators, these regulations help ensure that REV only advances cleaner energy solutions like rooftop solar, batteries, and energy efficiency.  

That’s a win for all New Yorkers: new regulations that are, in fact, a breath of fresh air. 

About the Authors

Miles Farmer

Senior Attorney, Climate & Clean Energy Program

Jackson Morris

Director, Eastern Region, Climate & Clean Energy Program
Blog Post

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is soliciting comments on its newly proposed emissions regulations for distributed generators. The regulations (which have been wallowing in administrative purgatory for more than a decade, but are finally moving forward thanks to Governor Cuomo's leadership), will establish New York's first-ever limits on two types of air pollution emitted from distributed, onsite generation (DG) sources like large, dirty diesel-powered generators.

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