WASHINGTON, DC – July 26, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — Connecticut Representatives Rosa DeLauro and John Larson introduced legislation today to reduce the levels of sulfur in heating oil. Home heating oil, used by nearly 7.5 million households (and nearly 50 percent of Connecticut households), is remarkably similar to diesel fuel, with one exception—the higher concentration of sulfur in home heating oil, as much as 130 times higher. Lowering those sulfur levels will cut down on harmful emissions in the air, benefitting public health.
“The Clean Heating Oil Act will build on state efforts to reduce the amount of sulfur in heating oil,” DeLauro said. “Many states, including my home state of Connecticut, have recognized the important environmental and health impacts this will have and the bill I am introducing today builds on and recognizes their efforts. With net exports of almost seven billion gallons of ultra low sulfur diesel fuel last year, the U.S. is already producing plenty of low sulfur fuel. It is high time we started using more of that fuel to heat our homes, benefit our environment and improve our health.”
“I am committed to improving the quality of the air we breathe,” said Larson, “This legislation will improve public health by reducing harmful pollutants in our air and will build on state efforts by setting a consistent national standard for low sulfur heating oil.”
The Clean Heating Oil Act reduces the allowable sulfur concentration in heating oil to 15 parts per million, the same concentration as diesel fuel, and in line with the sulfur reduction that started with 1990’s Clean Air Act amendments. The bill also provides the Environmental Protection Agency with some flexibility for implementing the limitation with temporary exemptions for small businesses and small refiners. The legislation also allows the Secretary of Energy ability to temporarily waive the low sulfur requirement in the event of supply disruptions.
In the Northeast alone, reducing the sulfur concentration of heating oil will prevent an estimates 167,000 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions. This means 3,546 asthma cases and 1,410 cases of lower respiratory infections in children could be avoided. Elevated sulfur dioxide levels are also known to cause breathing difficulty and contribute to cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness and impaired lung functions.