Government Fleet Top News

San Francisco Fleet is All Biodiesel

December 5, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO — Claiming it now has the largest green fleet in the nation, the City of San Francisco recently completed a yearlong project to convert its entire array of diesel vehicles — from ambulances to street sweepers — to biodiesel, a clean-burning and renewable fuel that holds promise for helping to reduce greenhouse gases, according to the New York Times.

Using virgin soy oil bought from producers in the Midwest, officials said currently, all of the city’s 1,500 diesel vehicles were powered with the environmentally friendlier fuel, intended to sharply reduce toxic diesel exhaust linked to a higher risk of asthma and premature death.

“Just like secondhand smoke, diesel is one of the worst things we can breathe,” said the City’s clean vehicle manager, Vandana Bali of the Department of the Environment.

The announcement came without fanfare from Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office recently, even as Congressional lawmakers dickered over the particulars of an energy bill that would give automakers incentives to produce cars that burn biofuels.

Bali said the City’s diesel vehicles all use a fuel known as B-20, a mix of 20-percent soy-based biofuel and 80-percent petroleum diesel fuel, which reduces toxic emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and other pollutants that lead to global warming.

A spokesman for the mayor, Nathan Ballard, said the goal was to cut such emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

In November, Mr. Newsom announced a new project called SFGreasecycle, a program to collect fats and cooking oils from restaurants, at no charge.

“We are collecting grease,” Mr. Ballard said. “Waste fats and oils are a major source of backup in our sewage system. But we’re taking the grease that would have gone down the drain and turning it into biodiesel.”

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