NYC Mayor Unveils Plan to Transition Heavy-Duty Fleet to Renewable Fuel

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) Commissioner Dawn M. Pinnock outlined a plan Nov. 29 to make New York City the first city on the East Coast to transition all heavy-duty vehicles in the city’s fleet from fossil to renewable fuel. The city’s fleet currently includes more than 12,600 on- and off-road trucks and specialized equipment that operate on diesel fuel — but by the end of Fiscal Year 2024, they will all operate on renewable diesel. The city issued the following statement:

Renewable diesel is proven to reduce carbon emissions and will replace up to 16 million gallons of fossil fuel used every year to power the city’s heavy-duty fleet, which includes garbage trucks and ambulances. After the full rollout of 16 million gallons of renewable diesel, the city will have cut 128 billion grams of carbon dioxide pollution each year. The transition began this past September, with 2.5 million gallons of renewable diesel already used across heavy-duty vehicles.

“New York City continues to lead the way for the rest of the country by making our vehicles cleaner, greener, and safer,” said Mayor Adams. “From our vehicles to our buildings and our food, we are making sustainability a critical component of all the work we do. This is the ‘Get Sustainability Done’ administration, and we will continue to serve as a model for cities across the globe in combating climate change while still delivering vital government services to New Yorkers every day.”

“New York City is proud to run on clean, renewable diesel and play our critical role in protecting the planet,” said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright. “By transitioning to renewable diesel with our heavy-duty vehicles, we are reducing dangerous greenhouse gas emissions and keeping our air clean. This change exemplifies the Adams administration’s steadfast commitment to addressing climate change and delivering environmental justice by taking an innovative, forward-thinking approach.”

“City government must be the change we want to see, leading the way in our city’s green energy transition,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “This commitment to renewable diesel is a major milestone in our broad strategy to transition city operations to green and clean energy and do our part in protecting our planet’s limited resources.”

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“Our transition to renewable diesel brings city government one step closer to renewing, revitalizing, and restoring our environment to better serve all New Yorkers,” said DCAS Commissioner Pinnock. “At DCAS, our efforts to green the city fleet have always been multifaceted, and with the adoption of renewable diesel, we are ushering in a new era in city government operations. With more than 2 million gallons of renewable diesel already delivered to city agencies, DCAS is setting a new standard for environment protection — one that does not compromise but enhances our ability to deliver critical services.”

Renewable diesel biofuel fully replaces fossil diesel — protecting the environment and delivering the same quality fuel. As the city works to fully electrify its entire vehicle fleet — in line with the goals of Intro. 279-A, which Mayor Adams signed into law in October 2023 — renewable diesel represents an important and immediately impactful intermediate step until viable electric models become fully available for city trucks and specialized equipment. Currently, 20,450 city vehicles — nearly three-quarters of the entire fleet — use a type of cleaner fuel alternative, such as electric, solar, hybrid, or biofuels. The city is also on track to meet its goal of eliminating half of the fleet’s 2015 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2025, as outlined in the NYC Clean Fleet Plan.

In addition to implementing cleaner fuel alternatives, the Adams administration is moving swiftly to electrify the city’s fleet. DCAS expects to operate over 5,000 electric vehicles by the end of 2023, with the number of electric vehicles in the DCAS-managed fleet increasing by 49 percent in Fiscal Year 2023. DCAS also already operates the largest electric vehicle charging network in New York state, with over 1,800 charging ports available to fleet vehicles, including fast chargers and solar carports. And DCAS will deploy another 500 charging ports in the next 18 months. The Adams administration has also supported the efforts of private partners to complement the city’s work by investing in and expanding electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the city.

“Tackling the climate crisis means ending our dependence on fossil fuels and transitioning to cleaner, renewable energy sources,” said New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “The transportation sector is the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States, and renewable diesel will help reduce New York City’s carbon footprint. I thank Mayor Eric Adams and DCAS Commissioner Dawn Pinnock for their leadership to make our city’s fleet the cleanest and greenest in America.”

“The Department of Sanitation operates thousands of heavy-duty vehicles, and New Yorkers expect those trucks to get the job done — whether picking up trash or plowing snow,” said New York City Department of Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch. “The transition to renewable diesel means our collection trucks will be there when needed, with less than half the damage to the air we breathe. I want to thank Mayor Adams for leading the way with this announcement, which sits squarely at the intersection of ‘Get Stuff Done’ and ‘Get Stuff Clean.’”

“We are proud to work with DCAS to adopt innovative technologies for our fleet that are sustainable and result in fewer emissions, and we cannot wait to put renewable diesel to work for NYC Parks’ heavy-duty diesel vehicles and equipment,” said New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “With this new Parks equipment switching over to renewable diesel — in addition to our nearly 100 recently unveiled electric pickup trucks complementing our existing electric fleet — we will continue to proactively look to reduce our emissions and make our city as clean and green as possible.”

“In order to fight climate change and the more destructive weather it is bringing to the region, city government is leading by example as we aggressively move to transition all of our operations to the cleanest possible fuels,” said New York City Chief Climate Officer and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “At DEP, all of our roughly 750 trucks transitioned to renewable diesel earlier this fall, and our fleet of marine vehicles has been running on biodiesel for several years.”

“This major milestone is a win for our climate and for public health, especially for New Yorkers disproportionately burdened by preexisting health conditions like asthma, heart disease, and other respiratory illnesses,” said Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Executive Director Elijah M. Hutchinson. “New York City is leading the nation, and the world, as we meet our aggressive goal of reducing emissions from government operations by 50 percent by 2030.”

“In 2015, New York City completed its first test of biofuels at NYC Parks. Biofuels have now been used for over a decade in every municipal fleet unit and building,” said DCAS Deputy Commissioner for Fleet Management and Chief Fleet Officer Keith Kerman. “Today, we take the biggest step forward yet — replacing all fossil diesel for city trucks and off-road equipment with renewable diesel. We will clean our truck emissions now using biofuels and keep working towards an even more exciting transition to electric and zero-emission vehicles in the years ahead.”

Mayor Adams has already taken aggressive steps to make New York City’s vehicle fleet greener and safer — transitioning 4,000 city vehicles to electric vehicles three years ahead of schedule and winning more than $10 million in federal funding to transition nearly 1,000 more, creating the “Green Rides” program to make for-hire vehicles zero-emission or wheelchair-accessible by 2030, and adding lifesaving active intelligent speed assistance technology in hundreds of city vehicles.

“Mayor Adams taking our city fleet off fossil fuel and switching to renewable diesel is a critical step to address the climate crisis,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “The only way to avert a future of adverse weather, overwhelmed food systems, rising sea levels, and mass extinction is to take bold steps to reduce our carbon footprint. Today’s initiative by the mayor is the largest implementation of renewable diesel on the East Coast. It transitions 12,500 vehicles and other equipment to clean fuel, replacing 16 million gallons of fossil fuel. This will reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by almost 300 million pounds each year, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of about 7,500 people. I look forward to continuing to partner with Mayor Adams to set the standard of excellence for environmental justice in our city and state.” 

“As global warming continues to negatively impact Queens and the entire city, we must do all we can to mitigate this impact by reducing the carbon footprint of city vehicles,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “Having the city’s heavy-duty vehicles switch to renewable diesel fuel is a great step in this direction. I commend the administration for being forward thinking in converting these vehicles to a more environmentally-friendly fuel.”  

“Under the visionary leadership of Mayor Eric Adams and Commissioner Dawn M. Pinnock, New York City is on its path to achieve an important environmental milestone,” said New York City Councilmember James F. Gennaro, chair, Committee on Environmental Protection, Resiliency and Waterfronts. “This groundbreaking plan to transition the entire fleet of over 12,500 heavy-duty vehicles from fossil to renewable fuel marks a historic leap toward sustainability. As the first city on the East Coast to undertake such a bold initiative, New York City is not only leading by example, but setting a powerful precedent for urban centers globally. The commitment to operate all city vehicles on renewable diesel by the end of Fiscal Year 2024 is a true testament to Mayor Adams and Commissioner Pinnock’s dedication to a cleaner, greener future for the New York City.”

“We are facing a once-in-a-civilization challenge to save our planet from destruction within,” said New York City Councilmember Lynn Schulman. “Today’s announcement of the completion and initial execution of the first long-term contract for renewable diesel fuel for the city’s heavy-duty fleet demonstrates this administration’s leadership in adapting to meet the realities of climate change.”

“We applaud Mayor Adams and DCAS for transitioning New York City’s entire truck fleet to renewable diesel, a major step in the city’s effort to reduce air pollution and fight climate change,” said Julie Tighe, president, New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV). “As we find ways to cut carbon emissions in our fuel supply and in every corner of the economy, renewable diesel has an increasingly important role to play, which is why NYLCV strongly advocates for a Clean Fuel Standard so more fleets can move off polluting fossil fuels and it is why today’s announcement is important to our public health and climate fight.”

“Empire Clean Cities applauds Mayor Adams and DCAS for their decision to transition the city’s heavy-duty fleet to clean, renewable diesel,” said Joy Gardner, executive director, Empire Clean Cities. “This transition underscores the city’s commitment to taking immediate action in reducing emissions across all fleet vehicles, setting a remarkable example for others, and propelling us toward a cleaner, more sustainable future. Embracing renewable fuels and seeking near-term solutions for larger and specialized vehicles marks a pivotal step toward combating climate change and prioritizing the well-being of residents in the heart of New York City.”

“Building upon the success of biodiesel adoption, New York City has already demonstrated a commitment to reducing emissions,” said Donnell Rehagen, chief executive officer, Clean Fuels Alliance America. “Now, adding renewable diesel, the city is not only prioritizing environmental responsibility, but also showcasing the transformative power of innovative fuel choices in creating a better, cleaner landscape.”

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