NYC’s Clean Heat Initiative: A Case Study for Municipal Environmental Policy


By Micah Wood, Jane Sun, and Sihan Liu

Abstract

New York City’s municipal government has implemented a series of local regulations designed to improve air quality across the city over the past two mayoral administrations. One such policy, the Clean Heat Initiative, curtailed the use of two “heavy” fuel oils used in building boilers for winter heating. Using publicly available data, we analyze whether the policy has been implemented as designed, and whether this implementation resulted in the intended outcome of meaningfully decreasing the concentration of dangerous PM2.5 particles in street-level air in neighborhoods across the city. This report includes an analysis of differentiated impacts in high and low income neighborhoods, and finds that a statistically significant relationship exists between the reduction in the total volume of No. 4 and No. 6 oils burned and the reduction of neighborhood level PM2.5 levels. We then offer suggestions for future regulation design to prioritize environmental justice and equity.

Read the full research paper here.


Authors

Micah Wood is an MPA-PNP student at NYU Wagner specializing in Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation. She is a graduate research assistant for the NYU Wagner NYC 2025 Project and the Manager of Data & Evaluation at a local college access nonprofit. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from Franklin & Marshall College.

Sihan Liu is a second year MPA-PNP student at NYU Wagner. Prior to enrolling at Wagner Sihan interned at Development and Reform Commission in her hometown Taiyuan, China and as a graduate student intern with Shanxi Province Women and Children Development Foundation. Sihan is passionate about public welfare and sustainable development. She holds a B.A. in Marketing from New York Institute of Technology.

Jane Sun obtained an MPA in Public & Nonprofit Management from NYU Wagner in Spring 2021, specializing in public policy. She currently works as a prospect research analyst for NYU’s Office of University Development and Alumni Relations. Jane holds a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College.