New York City Council Passes Legislation to Expedite the Phaseout of Fuel Oil No. 4 in Buildings

February 16, 2023
Contact: Chris Dobens, 718-679-8542,


NEW YORK — Today the New York City Council passed Introduction 470-A, which would require building owners to end the use of No. 4 oil by October 15, 2027, accelerating the timeline by 3 years. Fuel oil No. 4 is used in buildings as a source of heat and has a chemical composition that includes a mix of diesel oil and heavy fuel oils, the burning of which produces harmful air pollutants such as particulate matter, or soot, that can trigger asthma attacks and contribute to lung cancer, heart disease, and premature death.

Residents in Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx have the highest concentrations of buildings that burn fuel oil No. 4 in the city, contributing to their placement in New York State Enviroscreen’s top quartile for cancer risk and diesel exhaust. Notably, the same census tracts in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan with elevated exposure are in the top Enviroscreen quartile for percentage of people of color. Transitioning away from fuel oil No. 4 by 2027 is a profound step toward remedying the disproportionate burden on communities of color and protecting every New Yorker’s right to breathe clean air.

The new phaseout deadline has major public health implications for youth in these communities as well. In the case of several Bronx neighborhoods, pollution from fuel oil no. 4 often overlaps with high heat vulnerability and childhood asthma rates.

“We thank Council Member Gennaro and the other sponsors of this legislation, which is a timely response to long-standing needs in environmental justice communities,” said Caleb Smith, a Cecil Corbin-Mark Fellow at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “Intro 470-A amplifies the impact of the Adams administration’s plan to transition 100 schools in these communities from fuel oil systems to all-electric heating by 2030. Improving air quality in these neighborhoods aligns with reducing heat stress, chronic absenteeism related to asthma, and a healthier learning environment for youth at home and at school.”

While Introduction 470-A removes a particularly harmful fossil fuel from residences, WE ACT will continue to advocate for legislation that incentivizes building electrification in tandem with the phasedown of fossil fuels. Removing fuel oils one by one does not inherently prompt developers toward all-electric building design. We encourage the City Council to use this policy victory as a turning point toward more holistic policy change that redresses public health disparities. Environmental justice requires that our policy makers remedy the legacy of disinvestment in communities of color by enforcing their right to homes that preserve their health and wellbeing and do not make them more vulnerable to climate change.

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WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York and Washington, D.C. Visit us at and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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