Green is slow

Transit bus converted to soybean diedelFrom the mid- to late 80s, I helped set up biodiesel distribution systems in northern California.

From Procter & Gamble, which was pooling its oilseed farmers across the grain belt, we had millions of gallons ready to ship via cross country rail to tank farms throughout the region.

We went everywhere. Our first fleet targets were to convert the various bus systems of the San Francisco Bay Area to soybean diesel. AC Transit of the East Bay and the Golden Gate bus system of Marin/Sonoma were the most willing. Several federal grants and other incentives were arranged to offset the cost per gallon against high volume commodity diesel fuel.

CO2 in the atmospherAfter many attempts though, after many presentations, reports and meetings, there really was insufficient interest and never a vigorous commitment to adopt new and unfamiliar supplies. Even if managers would leap to the vanguard of ‘green’, ordinary diesel was cheap, and easier. Several administrators chose a few ‘showcase’ projects, but it seemed to me these so-called trials were merely self-satisfying politics; conversations for insider cocktail parties, or new items on a resume.

Many are now realizing that fuel from food crops may not be best in the long term, perhaps neither clean nor sustainable, yet finally San Francisco is trumpeting its new ‘green’.

But they’re actually 20 years late!! Now you know, as it’s said, the rest of the story!

SAN FRANCISCO fleet is all biodiesel
New York Times
Carolyn Marshall

San Francisco — Claiming it now has the largest green fleet in the nation, the city of San Francisco this week 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.

Using virgin soy oil bought from producers in the Midwest, officials were cited as saying that as of Friday, 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.

I got a kick out of the shrewd ‘power words’ sprinkled throughout, as if written by savvy politicians and not merely simple reporting at the NYTimes – words such as ‘green fleet’, ‘virgin soy’, ‘friendly fuel’, and these zingers too: ‘toxic diesel’ ‘risk of asthma’, ‘premature death’ !!