The San Francisco City Government has long been a leader in its commitment to alternative transportation fuels to promote clean air, encourage renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Mayor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Directive designed to increase the pace of municipal use of biodiesel.

Biodiesel is a renewable diesel fuel that is made from domestic resources such as soybean oil or other domestic fats and vegetable oils. It can be used in any diesel engine with few or no modifications, and can be blended with petroleum diesel at any level.

This makes San Francisco the largest U.S. city ever to institute such broad biodiesel use, said Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board (NBB) CEO. The mayors leadership in taking his city diesel fleet to B20 (a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel) is a demonstration of true commitment to the environment, and to weaning ourselves from foreign oil.

Since 1999, the Citys 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, Department of Public Works, MUNI buses, and the San Francisco Zoo. Ferries operating out of San Francisco have also used B20 with excellent results.

The City uses about 8 million gallons of diesel a 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 for biodiesel use, including modifications to engines or cleaning of existing diesel storage tanks.

All diesel-using departments shall draft a report listing all diesel vehicles and diesel equipment and send it to Department of Environment, with a copy to the mayors office, by July 1, 2006. The Department of Environment and Central Shops shall identify additional related information to be included in the report and notify the departments of those requirements no later than May 31, 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 departments use of B20: initiate and complete biodiesel pilot project by December 31, 2006; 25% by March 31, 2007; and100% by December 31, 2007. The San Francisco Fire Department also announced that it has initiated a six month pilot program to test and monitor the use of B20 in two fire trucks, six engines, and one ambulance. The program will take place in the southeastern section of San Francisco, an area that consistently experiences the citys poorest air quality. Upon successful completion of the pilot program, the Fire Department expects to expand the use of biodiesel throughout the City.

According to Brie Mathews, a 12-year veteran firefighter and paramedic, the departments use of B20 has been in the works for some time. She said she first had the idea three years ago, when she began using biodiesel in her personal car. She and a colleague pitched the idea last year.

As firefighters and paramedics, our fire department has done well to protect us form the obvious toxins were 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, she said.

Biodiesel significantly cuts harmful environmental emissions, promotes greater energy independence and boosts our economy. Today, more than 600 major fleets use biodiesel commercially, and 700 retail filling stations make it available to the public.