San Francisco mayor announces citywide B20 plan

By | July 01, 2006
Brie Mathews, a 12-year firefighter and paramedic, worked for three years to introduce the San Francisco Fire Department to biodiesel. After using biodiesel in her personal car, she said the idea to take it to the fire trucks came "out of a concern for my health, my coworkers' health and the health of the people we serve."

This spring, her efforts paid off. The San Francisco Fire Department announced a six-month pilot program to test and monitor the use of B20 in six engines, two fire trucks and one ambulance. The program will take place in the southeastern section of San Francisco, an area that consistently experiences the city's poorest air quality.

"As firefighters and paramedics, our fire department has done well to protect us from the obvious toxins we're exposed to in fires and hazardous situations, but what I felt we are not so easily protected from are the toxic emissions we are exposed to in everyday fire and medical calls," Mathews said.
But the fire department is just one city department taking that leap.

In May, Mayor Gavin Newsom issued an executive directive designed to increase the pace of municipal use of biodiesel. He issued a directive that requires virtually all city diesel vehicles to run on B20. The city uses about 8 million gallons of diesel per year.

Among other things, the directive states:
>Central shops and individual department fleet managers shall identify vehicle and equipment applications that can most quickly be transitioned to biodiesel, and shall make any necessary preparations.
>All diesel-using departments shall draft a report listing all diesel vehicles and diesel equipment, and send it to the Department of Environment and the mayor's office by July 1, 2006.
>All diesel-using departments shall begin using a B20 biodiesel blend as soon as practicable in all diesel vehicles and other diesel equipment, with the following incremental goals in each department's use of B20:
>>Initiate and complete biodiesel pilot project by Dec. 31, 2006
>>25 percent biodiesel use by March 31, 2007
>>100 percent biodiesel use by Dec. 31, 2007
Since 1999, the city's Healthy Air and Smog Prevention ordinance has established requirements for city fleets to purchase vehicles using alternative fuels or energy-efficient vehicles with low emissions. San Francisco now has more than 800 alternative fuel vehicles in its fleets.

Several city departments and agencies have successfully used B20, including San Francisco Airport, the Department of Public Works, Muni buses and the San Francisco Zoo. Ferries operating out of San Francisco have also used B20 with excellent results.
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