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San Francisco switches city vehicles to biodiesel

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced today that The City’s municipal fleet of vehicles are switching from petroleum diesel to renewable diesel by the end of the year.

Lee made the announcement today at the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences’ Modern Slavery & Climate Change conference in Vatican City:

“By changing our fleet’s fuel from petroleum to renewable diesel, we’re taking action that is good for the global climate, and at the same time promotes environmental justice in our community by leading to cleaner, healthier air for some of our most vulnerable neighborhoods. … The city of Saint Francis is answering the Pope’s call for action on global climate change.”

The switch to renewable diesel is estimated to slash the greenhouse gas emissions from the fleet’s diesel vehicles by more than 60 percent, according to the mayor’s office.

It will also reduce emissions of soot and other air pollutants that harm residents’ health, particularly those in San Francisco’s lower-income communities.

In addition, Lee expects that switching to renewable diesel may be cost-efficient as well:

“Because of the state and federal governments’ incentives to producers to manufacture low carbon fuels, this switch can potentially reduce our city’s fuel costs.”

Although renewable diesel is currently more expensive to produce, it qualifies for credits under federal and state programs that allow renewable diesel to be available at or below the price of petroleum diesel, according to the mayor’s office.

The San Francisco Fire Department piloted the use of renewable diesel over six months last year and so far has been pleased with the results.

San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said in a statement:

“Our fleet ran cleaner and more efficiently and we are completely supportive of the mayor’s call to switch to renewable diesel to improve the environment and create a healthier future for our residents.”

San Francisco has been working to move away from petroleum diesel and towards cleaner solutions for about six years, adopting a blend of biodiesel called B20, which is 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel and is what most of the municipal fleet currently uses today, according to the mayor’s office.

Renewable diesel and biodiesel are both produced from bio-feedstock sources such as fats and vegetable oils, but are produced through different processes.

San Francisco Department of the Environment director Debbie Raphael said in a statement:

“This is a great example of how Mayor Lee is taking bold steps to curb greenhouse gases. … It shows how our actions at the city level can have huge positive impact, globally and locally.”

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