NEW YORK CITY – Today, the New York City Council unanimously passed the Zero-Emission Vehicles for New York City (ZEV4NYC) Act.
The legislation will require that the entirety of NYC’s municipal fleet, the country’s largest with over 30,000 cars, trucks, and buses, be electrified. Light- and medium-duty city-owned vehicles must be all-electric and emission-free by 2035, and heavy-duty vehicles shortly thereafter. The fleet includes vehicles such as ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, sanitation trucks, school buses, and street sweepers. To accomplish this, the legislation sets important purchasing deadlines—dates after which only zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) can be purchased by city agencies.
Like in other large cities, New York’s environmental justice communities suffer from vehicle pollution disproportionately. Communities that experience environmental injustice have a rate of emergency room visits for asthma tied to particle pollution that is eight times higher than in other parts of the city, according to the City’s Department of Health. Taking fossil fuel vehicles off the road and replacing them with ZEVs is a necessary step to improve the health of all New Yorkers.
Key New York City stakeholders reacted to the legislation passing the City Council:
“This legislation is a nation-leading example of bold action to clean up air pollution for residents by addressing a top pollution source,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous. “We commend Majority Leader Keith Powers for his leadership on this important legislation and our staff and volunteers for their long-standing commitment to electrifying the whole of New York City’s vehicle fleet.”
“Today, New York City has moved forward to fight climate change and protect the health of our communities in a big way. Eliminating tailpipe pollution from our city’s fleet of tens of thousands of fossil fuel vehicles will have immense public health and climate benefits that are long overdue for many communities,” said Wayne Arden, vice-chair of the Sierra Club’s New York City Group.
“With the passage of this bill, New York City is demonstrating strong leadership in fleet electrification,” said Sam Wilson, Senior Vehicles Analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “This bill will accelerate smart, feasible policies toward cleaner air and a more stable climate. Transitioning to electric vehicles, particularly heavy-duty trucks, will lead to both meaningful reductions in harmful emissions and operational savings for city agencies. The bill has the potential for positive impacts beyond New York City as other cities, particularly those in states lagging in electrification, can follow this example.”
David Arfin, NineDot Energy’s CEO and Co-founder, said, "As New York City moves forward with this bold transportation initiative, NineDot Energy will be ready to assist with this transition, by providing direct and indirect infrastructure solutions to help with charging and grid resiliency. These solutions include community-scale battery storage sites, personal and fleet EV-charging, and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology implementation. We fully support the City's ongoing leadership towards urban decarbonization and environmental justice and are committed to the innovation and public-private partnerships that will be needed to accomplish these urgent and important common goals."
“The repercussions that follow the city’s compliance to carbon-emitting vehicles are experienced by the communities who can afford it the least. For communities like the South Bronx, asthma rates are already one of the highest in the country, and children and teenagers visit emergency rooms with respiratory illnesses at rates twice the city’s average,” said Leslie Vasquez, the South Bronx Unite Clean Air Program Organizer. “Our historically marginalized communities shouldn’t have to bear the burden of environmental health impacts, and we cannot afford to wait another year without government action. The city’s continued reliance on a fossil fuel fleet will only further pollute our air and worsen the climate crisis.”
“The NYC Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO is pleased to support Intro 279, which is a significant step forward in our City’s ability to meet our emissions goals while prioritizing the just transition and retraining of City workers who may be affected by the electrification of NYC’s fleet,” said NYC CLC President Vincent Alvarez. “We are also strongly in favor of the resolution calling for the work to be completed by high-road contractors, and we look forward to working with the City as we continue to move towards a successful clean energy transition.”
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.