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Chicago City Council passes Clean Diesel Construction ordinance!


Today, the Illinois Campaign to Clean Up Diesel Pollution, a coalition led by Citizen Action/Illinois and Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (RHAMC), congratulated the City Council for passing the Chicago Clean Diesel Construction Ordinance. Introduced by Mayor Daley and sponsored by the Chicago Department of Environment, the ordinance will require the use of cleaner diesel fuel and less-polluting diesel trucks and equipment to be used on city-funded construction projects.

The ordinance will significantly reduce pollution from diesel-powered vehicles and equipment operating under city contracts. Diesel exhaust is a health hazard that triggers asthma attacks, heart attacks, stroke, lung cancer, premature death, among other heath problems. In the Chicago metropolitan area alone, it is estimated that fine particles from diesel engines cause 723 deaths, 1,125 heart attacks, 511 cases of chronic bronchitis, and 28,201 asthma attacks each year.

“We commend Mayor Daley for his leadership in cleaning up dirty construction equipment, said Joel Africk, President and CEO of RHAMC. “Enacting legislation to clean up sooty diesel vehicles and equipment is smart policy.  It will improve air quality and protect the health of city residents.”

Construction vehicles and equipment are a major source of diesel pollution.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a typical bulldozer can emit more soot than 500 cars.  The construction industry uses more diesel engines than any other business sector, and most pieces of construction equipment lack effective air pollution controls even though they are commercially available.

Jonathan Doster, Organizer, Citizen Action/Illinois, also hailed the city for its efforts to promote cleaner equipment on publicly funded construction projects.  “We applaud the city’s leadership in crafting this ordinance.  Public money should not be spent on dirty fuel and equipment when cleaner solutions are readily available.”

This ordinance builds on a number of policies to clean up diesel equipment. The O’Hare Modernization Program has required cleaner diesel fuel, engine idling limits, and pollution controls on some diesel equipment used on O’Hare airport expansion projects. Similar clean construction policies have also been adopted by the Cook County Board and the Illinois Department of Transportation. 

“As Board Commissioner, I led the charge in passing a green construction ordinance in Cook County,” said Roberto Maldonado, Alderman to the 26th Ward. “I’m thrilled the City of Chicago has taken similar action to help clean our air and protect city residents from diesel pollution. Asthma is a serious problem in the Latino community.  In some communities of Chicago, 34% of Puerto Rican children have asthma.  We must be doing everything possible to clean up our air.”

“I’ve always been a strong supporter of cleaning up pollution from dirty construction equipment,” said Joe Moore, Alderman to the 49th Ward. “I applaud the city for their thorough work on this ordinance.  This is just a start, and I look forward to working with the new council and mayor on further efforts to reduce diesel pollution.”