Thursday, May 12, 2011 • The RIVERDALE REVIEW
Concern grows over increases in fuel oil, electricity and water fees
By BRENDAN McHUGH Congressman Eliot Engel is a lead sponsor of the Open Fuel Standard Act, which will bring fuel competition to the pump by requiring that half of new cars by 2014, and 95 percent by 2017, can operate on nonpetroleum fuels in addition to or instead of petroleum-based fuels. The bill would allow the full array of existing technologies—including ﬂex fuel, natural gas, hydrogen, biodiesel, plug-in electric drive and fuel cell—and a catchall for new technologies. “Our dependence on oil is fueled by demand from our transportation sector and is by far the biggest reason we transfer $600 billion every year to hostile nations to pay for oil at ever-increasing costs,” Engel said. “By employing the Open Fuel Standard, we can force petroleum to compete on the open market with other types of fuel. We don’t have to wait for the perfect technology. We can turn this around right now, at little to no cost per car, and create a safer and more prosperous America.” Engel, the lead Democrat, was joined by Rep. John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican, as a lead sponsor of the legislation. Rep. Engel was the lead sponsor when the Democrats held the House
majority. The bipartisan bill is co-sponsored New York Democrat Steve Israel and Maryland Republican Roscoe Bartlett. The Big Three automobile companies have stated their willingness to make 50 percent of new vehicles ﬂex fuel by 2012. The cost of doing so is about $100 per vehicle. In Brazil the ratio of ﬂex fuel vehicles went from zero to 70 percent in just three years, freeing that country from the necessity of oil imports. Gas prices have climbed over 30 percent in the past year, but that is only one cost city residents have had to—or will soon—endure. Con Edison recently announced residential rates are expected to climb by about 7.4 percent during peak air-conditioning season this June, July and August. The New York Post reported last week that city Comptroller John Liu plans to audit this year’s property tax rolls to determine why the values of some co-ops and condos suddenly shot up by as much as 147 percent, putting homeowners at risk of huge tax hikes. Another hike to be faced not only by co-op shareholders but also by renters and homeowners is a mandated change in heating oil. As part of Mayor Michael R.
Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, all buildings will be forced to change from No. 6 heating oil to No. 4 by 2015 and then to No. 2 by 2030. This requires a change in boilers and in many cases entire heating pipes in buildings and under roads. Although the mayor said only 1 percent of all buildings use No. 6 oil, the Association of Riverdale Cooperatives president Stephen Budihas is skeptical of that percentage, saying nearly every co-op in Riverdale is using No. 6. Brooklyn City Councilman Albert Vann last week held a City Council hearing to discuss the increase in water rates for city residents. The city proposed hiking water fees by 11 percent, but Vann’s committee of community development has decreased the hike to 7.5 percent, the ﬁrst time since 2007 the hike won’t be in the double-digits. Vann recently had a bill passed that will give protection to homeowners who are struggling to pay their taxes before the city sells the lien on the property. The bill increases the threshold for the sale of certain liens and provides homeowners a payment plan to avoid having their liens sold. The bill also adds protection for veterans. “This bill will provide many necessary protections for home-
owners—both before and after a lien may be sold—and especially for our senior citizen, disabled, low-income and veteran homeowners,” Vann said in a statement. “We must do all we can to protect the economic health
of New Yorkers when possible, and this bill ensures that our city agencies will take signiﬁcant steps to protect homeowners, who, like many New Yorkers, are trying to withstand the current economic pressures.”
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Weekly newspaper published in Riverdale, NY 10471