04.08 Approved Minutes

 

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

BIODIESEL ACCESS TASK FORCE REGULAR MEETING

 

APPROVED MINUTES

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 2009, 10:00 A.M.

 

CITY HALL, ROOM 278, ONE DR. CARLTON B. GOODLETT PLACE,

SAN FRANCISCO, CA  94102  

 


TASK FORCE MEMBERS:  VOTING:  Eric Bowen (Chair), Eric Smith (Vice-Chair), Joe Burgard, Kevin Clark, Shannon Devine, Benjamin Jordan, and Michele Swiggers. NON-VOTING: David Augustine (Treasurer/Tax Collector), Vandana Bali (Department of the Environment), Richard Berman (Port), Sarah Dennis (Planning Department), Mike Ferry (Fire Department), Laurence Kornfield (DBI), Vacant (MOCD), Marty Mellera (MTA), Virginia St. Jean (DPH), Karri Ving (PUC). 


ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Biodiesel Access Task Force meeting convened at 10:10 a.m.  Voting Members Present:  Chair Bowen, Vice-Chair Smith, Members Burgard, Clark (10:35), Jordan (10:30) and Swiggers.  Voting Member Excused:  Member Devine.  Advisory Members Present:  Members Ferry (10:11) and Ving (10:28); Advisory Members Excused:  Members Augustine, Berman, and Kornfield; Advisory Members Absent: Members Bali, Dennis, Mellera and St. Jean.

 

2.      Approval of the February 11, 2009 Biodiesel Access Task Force Regular Meeting Draft Minutes. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Member Swiggers and second by Vice-Chair Smith, the February 11, 2009 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Chair Bowen, Vice-Chair Smith, Members Burgard and Swiggers; Absent:  Members Clark, Devine and Jordan) (Explanatory Document: February 11, 2009 Approved Minutes).

 

Item 3 was heard after Item 7.

 

3.      Master Fuel Contract and City Biodiesel Program Update. (Discussion)

 

Member Jordan reported that the Request for Proposal(s) for the Master Fuel Contract has been issued and is on the City’s web page for public review.  A successful bid conference was held and there were multiple bidders responding to the Request for Proposal(s).  Member Jordan explained that his understanding is that the contract has a broader definition on how to deliver biodiesel, and there is a second contract being prepared that is more specifically geared towards quality assurance and control that would be developed through a contractor and potentially integrated within City staff and their skill sets.  The objective would be to find City staff that can potentially manage quality control programs for biodiesel. 

 

4.      State Water Resources Control Board Underground Storage Tank (UST) Update. (Continued Discussion from the February 11, 2009 Meeting) (Informational Report and Discussion) SPEAKER: Member Bowen

 

Chair Bowen reported that California Biodiesel Alliance and National Biodiesel Board staff are actively working with the California Water Resource Control Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to address regulatory matters pertaining to the storage of biodiesel blends in underground storage tanks (USTs) in California.   It was reported that B5 has now been classified as acceptable for storage in UTSs based on UL guidance following the change in the definition of ASTM D 975, that a solution is currently being worked on for blends of B6 to B20, and it is expected that the Water Board will issue revised guidelines in a few months.  It was explained that existing laws are adequate for dealing with blends above B20 in above ground storage tanks, and there is no problem.  It was reported that B20 and all blends below cover an estimated 90% of the biodiesel used in the state, and most of the B100 currently used in the state is stored in above ground storage tanks.  There are companies that store B100 underground for use in a variety of programs, and the future would determine if a solution will be found for those tanks.

 

Member Ferry reported that for San Francisco’s program, the Department of Public Health is issuing a letter to all departments discussing what has been agreed upon for storage and best management practices, which is a temporary understanding until the Water Board issues further information.

 

5.      Hazardous Material Classification of Biodiesel. (Continued Discussion from the February 11, 2009 Meeting) (Discussion) SPEAKER:  Member St. Jean.  This agenda item was tabled.

 

6.      Proposal to Create a B20 Mandate in San Francisco. (Continued Discussion from the February 11, 2009 Meeting) (Discussion) 

 

Vice-Chair Smith reported that the proposal to create a biodiesel mandate is moving along slowly because San Francisco has different activities and challenges that are occupying people’s time and resources at this time, e.g., the budget, underground storage tank issues, and other programs.  It was recommended that the Chair and Vice-Chair meet to craft a proposal to discuss with Supervisor Mirkarimi and Mr. Crowfoot of the Mayor’s Office. It was reported that the objective is to start with a B5 mandate and then move to a B20 mandate in the future. Member Swiggers reported that there have been problems with biodiesel and engine compatibility in blends as low as B5 that would be a major factor to consider in pursuing any type of mandate.  It was explained that Portland has been having problems in their fleet and should be consulted about their efforts for a B5 citywide mandate.

 

Chair Bowen stated that a directive should be issued to the OEM community to make sure that they are creating lower carbon diesel fuel solutions or producing engines compatible with those solutions, otherwise all of the federal and state policies will be in conflict with the technology and equipment available.  It was recommended that the City become better educated by consulting Portland and the National Biodiesel Board and should relay a message that we need vehicles that are biodiesel compatible to achieve our carbon emission reduction goals.  Chair Bowen stated that something should be done at a federal level about engine compatibility with fuels. 

 

Vice-Chair Smith reported that Portland has a B5 mandate currently in place for retail sales.  Chair Bowen reported that Portland, as San Francisco, has an aggressive municipal biodiesel use policy so all of their vehicles are running on various biodiesel blends, including Portland’s Water District that is running on B100.  The issue is what vehicle the City could purchase to be able to continue running their programs if newer engines are not biodiesel friendly.  The second issue is how can a 5% biodiesel mandate for all diesel sold in the city of Portland’s jurisdiction be imposed if the vehicle is not compatible with the fuel.    

 

Members Jordan and Ving joined the meeting at this time.

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Eric Brooks, San Francisco Green Party, stated that most people who are on the cutting edge progressive environmental front know that biofuels are starting to mature and are starting to have strong concerns.  Mr. Brooks expressed his concern with Europe’s legal mandate and the use of unsustainable sources of biodiesel that are not good for the environment and problems it has caused in countries such as Indonesia and Brazil.  It was recommended that a mandate should include a requirement that only local waste resource material and nothing else be used. Chair Bowen reported that most people in attendance at this meeting consider themselves environmentalists and many got involved in biodiesel for the opportunity to use local waste resources.  It was explained that well-designed low carbon biofuel policies can ensure that this happens and poorly designed policies can have bad consequences.

 

7.      Green Depot Program Report. (Continued Discussion from the February 11, 2009 Meeting) (Informational Report and Discussion) SPEAKERS:  Vice- Chair Smith

 

Vice-Chair Smith reported that the Green Depot program is about to receive a Memorandum of Understanding from Global Exchange to form a partnership with Green Depot’s biofuel recycling program and to work with Ms. Ving in the GreaseCycle program to train interns from Bayview Hunters Point and Potrero neighborhoods.  Vice-Chair Smith reported on the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee meeting discussion by Ms. Rhonda Simmons of the Mayor’s Office about the new Green Academy and stimulus funding to be received by the Department of the Environment and Public Utilities Commission.  Solar, green trucking, green building programs, and a biofuel recycling and reuse program were a part of that discussion. Vice-Chair Smith reported that a variety of programs are being reviewed in the stimulus world, and an effort is being made to create a more sustainable program that goes beyond a ten-week training program. 

 

Member Clark joined the meeting at this time.

 

Member Burgard inquired whether the Green Depot program reports on its progress annually in quantifiable measures. Chair Bowen reported that a report has been submitted to the Department of the Environment summarizing activities.  Vice-Chair Smith reported that Green Depot can’t take credit for all activity but since its inception has been a part of (1) the start up of three biodiesel stations in the Potrero and Bayview Hunters Point neighborhoods, e.g., the Olympian station, SF Petroleum and Dogpatch Biofuels; (2) Rainbow Grocery mobile fueling; (3) educating the produce mart; (4) outreach to truckers in Bayview Hunters Point on a variety of programs; (4) the SF Bay Railroad diverting its locomotives to running on B50 biodiesel. It is the first and only locomotive to be successfully tested by the California Air Resources Board (CARB); (5) and has been the umbrella for the SF Biofuels Cooperative and the Biofuels Recycling program, which works with PUC’s GreaseCycle program.  Member Burgard, Chair Bowen and Member Jordan discussed green collar apprenticeship training programs that are available and being developed.

 

Item 3 was heard before Item 8.

       

8.      Dogpatch Biofuels Update.  (Discussion) Speaker:  Member Swiggers

 

Member Swiggers reported that Dogpatch Biofuels has been able to sell excellent quality 100% recyclable biodiesel primarily sourced from the City’s waste collection efforts. The station is open five days a week and sells about 300 gallons a day, which is a reasonable amount.  Member Swiggers reported that they recently had a good reception and are receiving support from the existing biodiesel community and neighbors in the Dogpatch area.   

 

9.      Update on the Greasecycle Program and SFPUC Pilot Plant. (Continued Discussion from the February 11, 2009 Meeting) (Informational Report and Discussion) SPEAKERS: Members Jordan and Ving

 

Member Ving reported that there are over 600 restaurants participating in the Greasecycle program.  It was explained that program participation dropped considerably last fall when cooking oil prices were skyrocketing and restaurants were getting paid for their oil.  Now restaurants are coming back to the program because of their frustration with the private sector program.  It was reported that there was an increase in Sunset Scavenger referrals which means that people were going back to throwing their oil down the drain.  It was explained that consideration is being given to offering free grease pickup service to “mom and pop” restaurants.  Member Ving reported that PUC has allocated a 110-gallon container to Dogpatch Biofuels so that residents can drop off their cooking oil.  Member Jordan reported that the goal would be to find other locations throughout the City in each neighborhood.  Member Ving reported that two neighborhood walks were taken with Supervisors Carmen Chu and David Chiu in their supervisorial district to talk to restaurants and residents about the grease collection program.  The objective would be to start two residential drop-off centers, one in Chinatown and one in the Sunset District. 

 

Member Ving reported that the brown grease to biodiesel program is moving full speed ahead.  Calculations show that there may be 12 million gallons of brown grease in the City that gets exported out of our communities and into neighboring communities to deal with.  The goal would be to keep and handle the brown grease in San Francisco.  A pilot project/demonstration would allow the SFPUC Oceanside plant to accept up to 10,000 gallons of restaurant trap waste per day to be dewatered with the 3% concentrate to be turned into ASTM biodiesel equaling 300 gallons of biodiesel produced per day.  The 97% water would be fed into the Oceanside plant to remove nutrients for methane generation.  Grants are being pursued to make that a full scale project. 

 

Member Ving reported on the success of the Global Exchange internship program and future plans to expand the program.  It was explained that consideration is being given to expanding the internships into a 9922 pre-apprenticeship program for engineers.  Interns would be trained and educated on how to take the exams to take engineering apprentices, a four year program.    

 

Vice-Chair Smith inquired on savings from this abatement program to keep grease out of the sewers.  Member Ving reported that between 44% and 70% of work orders for sewer blockage are grease related, and on the conservative side, 44% would cost about 3 ½ billion dollars a year to respond to backup and interruption of service.  Member Ving stated that there is an ordinance in draft form that would require restaurants to install grease removal devices, and enforcement would be handled by the Department of Public Health and the SFPUC. The problem is that the devices are expensive, so an effort is being made to work with the restaurants to determine how to pay for these devices through grant programs, rebates, and lowering their sewer rates. It was explained that water and sewer rates are going up with the exception of one sector, the restaurant industry, which would be a savings of approximately 15% a year for the next five years.      

 

10.  Update on the Status of Darling’s Proposed Biodiesel Manufacturing Plant in San Francisco. (Continued Discussion from the February 11, 2009 Meeting) SPEAKER:  Vice-Chair Smith

 

Vice-Chair Smith reported that a few weeks ago, Darling was planning on implementation of a 10 million gallon biodiesel facility at Pier 92.  Representatives from Darling appeared at the Task Force meeting, met with Port staff and Green Depot, and were in attendance at the National Biodiesel Board conference.  Several weeks ago, the Bayview Community Advocates filed a petition challenging the CEQA categorical exemption that was issued by the Planning Department for the Darling plant. There is a plan to convene all stakeholders to determine future steps, and the Task Force has received communication from a variety of folks on this topic.

 

Mr. Brad Benson, Port of San Francisco, stated that the Port spent about five months last year negotiating the lease with Darling for their Pier 92 facility and had approved a lease amendment in September relying on this categorical exemption that the Planning Department had issued.  The Port had taken the lease proposals through the Southern Waterfront Advisory Committee (SWAC), which the Port relies on for feedback from the Bayview Hunters Point community. The proposal had received a positive reception at the SWAC meeting, so it was surprising that an appeal had been filed by someone serving on SWAC who is active with the Bayview Hunters Point Community advocates.  The Port realized that they did not have the level of community support that they thought they had for the proposal.  A meeting was held with the SWAC member, members of Bayview Community Advocates, their attorneys at Golden Gate Law, and Planning Department staff who expressed continuing support for the project, but relayed their concerns around the issuance of the categorical exemption and felt that CEQA needs to be followed. The Planning Department and the Port believe that CEQA was followed. The Port had asked the Planning Department to withdraw their categorical exemption and the appeal was tabled as a result.  A meeting was held with Planning Department staff to map out an approach to environmental review that would fulfill the community’s request. 

 

Mr. Benson explained that there is concern that Darling spent a lot of money getting to this point, and that the appeal was filed five months after the lease amendment.  Darling is entering a very expensive engineering phase for the project, and their estimates for building the biodiesel production facility at this location is over $13 million dollars. They have the ability to build the plant anywhere, as they operate various facilities within the state and in the United States, so keeping that investment in the City is the Port’s concern.  Mr. Benson reported that Member Berman would be keeping the Task Force up to date as this issue moves forward. 

 

Mr. Benson reported that current plans are to initiate a dialogue with the Bayview Community Advocates and other folks who are watching this project to address community concerns.  Concerns that were articulated in the appeal include issues such as biodiesel storage and air emissions associated with biodiesel production.  The Port thinks that they and the regulatory process have answers for all of those concerns and will be reaching out to the Department of Public Health, Planning, Fire, and the Air District to talk about their future regulatory approvals and to explain to people the facts about the regulatory construction of this facility, should it get through the CEQA process. Mr. Benson explained that above and beyond the local regulatory permits that have to be issued, the Port did negotiate that this has to be an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 211 certified biodiesel production facility, so there is another proprietary review that is required by EPA. 

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Eric Brooks, San Francisco Green Party Sustainability Working Group, reported that the Planning Department does not hold hearings on categorical exemptions and that it might help the Port to request that a hearing be held.  Mr. Benson stated that the Port has more advisory groups than any other City department--there is one group for each distinct geographic area along the waterfront, and the Port vets their projects in public with the effected community through these groups.  It was explained that CEQA has its requirements for public notification and participation at different levels of review, and the Port turns to the Planning Department to approve projects.  Mr. Brooks stated that the Green Party Sustainability Working Group is strongly opposed to the Darling Biodiesel production facility and had issued an email to Task Force members stating concerns (Explanatory Document: Email to Task Force Members). 

 

Chair Bowen stated that the only way there will be a low carbon fuel future which biofuels is a part of is by educating more people on what the opportunities and dangers are so the right policies can be designed.  Chair Bowen acknowledged the issues having to do with the use of animal fats and the horrors of agribusiness on the meat processing side, but stated that he personally feels the raw material would serve a better purpose going into biodiesel use than other uses such as animal feed, exports, soap production, etc.  Chair Bowen explained that if you have a raw material that is available and building a biodiesel plant or not would have zero impact on whether or not that activity continues, using that waste material to accomplish other societal goals such as cleaner air and reduced carbon would be an opportunity. 

 

Member Ving stated that the Task Force is actively participating in the process of sustainability and sourcing local biofuels.  It was explained that the job of regulatory agencies is to protect people and the planet, and to put these issues out on the table so that corporations can change their course if necessary.  Mr. Brooks cited Darling’s environmental history record and indicated that increasing profitability of this material is going in the wrong direction, that there should be ways to deal with the material other than through a big corporation process.  Mr. Brooks stated that there needs to be a better stakeholder discussion to determine ways that all biodiesel in San Francisco be sourced recycled waste material from restaurants and homes and maybe methane from SFPUC’s operations.    

 

Mr. Pascal, Clean Tech Manager, Department of the Environment, discussed his background in the environmental field, working on political campaigns with Green Party and Sierra Club members, as an advocate for sustainability of the food system from an environmental perspective, advocate for social justice implications of food and food access, and in working on advancing the City’s environmental objectives.  Mr. Pascal stated that Mr. Brook’s concerns expressed in his email are valid; but disagreed with the comment that “This move toward a 10 million gallons per year animal rendering based

biodiesel plant was clearly cooked up to deflect criticism of San Francisco's current practice of importing millions of gallons per year of soy diesel from mid-west U.S. agriculture.”   Mr. Pascal reported that he is one of the people instrumental in working on the plan and nothing is further from the case.  Mr. Pascal explained that the mandate called for solving as soon as possible the City’s desire to have sustainably locally-sourced biofuel and that mandate was being driven by the City’s commitment to convert its entire fleet to run on biodiesel B20, which was a wonderful environmental move.  It was reported that all options were reviewed and had gone through a vigorous vetting process.  Conversations were held with experts around this table and the conclusions made were through a result of collective knowledge and experience.

 

Mr. Pascal explained that it is not a perfect solution, but there has to be a balance between conflicting priorities and conflicting objectives to come up with best solutions.  The City potentially needs a few million gallons of fuel or biodiesel a year, and there are not a lot of ways to meet that demand in an early timeframe.  The options that would take longer are being left open so there is an opportunity to respond as technologies change and new opportunities present themselves.  The recommendations to move forward with the Darling plant include other recommendations to implement a very vigorous quality assurance program on how to use and maintain biofuel, recommendations on how to address concerns on underground storage tanks, and other relevant issues, which were looked at comprehensively from an environmental perspective. 

 

Mr. Pascal reported that Mr. Benson and his team did a wonderful job negotiating with Darling on improvements to their operation, discussed their past reputation with the community, violations abatement, improvements that would be made to the facility, mitigated the amount of odor issues in the community, and other relevant issues.  Part of this project included another round of improvements that Darling agreed to make to their business practices, and there was a lot of wins for the City in pursuing this operation.  Mr. Pascal did not agree that Darling should be blamed for all of the problems surrounding the industrial factory farming agriculture industry, and indicated that it would be like blaming one organization for all the waste that is generated in the City.  Mr. Pascal reported that there are concerns that a lot of issues have been raised that may or not be well founded and would cast a project that was rigorously vetted, debated, and discussed at a number of public hearings, that include this Task Force and the Port, in the wrong light. 

 

This agenda item was continued to the June 10, 2009 meeting.       

 

11.  Diesel Engine - Post Combustion Injection Diesel Particulate Filter Regeneration Technique Discussion. (Informational Report and Discussion) Speaker:  Member Jordan

 

Members Jordan and Swiggers reported that creation of a website www.Savebiodiesel.org is in process but not yet officially published in order to accept input from key stakeholders and people that have knowledge about this issue.  An email will be sent when the website is officially published.  Member Swiggers also discussed the usage of biodiesel with the new in-cylinder post injection systems. This agenda item was continued to the June 10, 2009 meeting.

 

12.  New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information and Discussion)  There was no new business or future agenda items discussed at this time.

 

13.  Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Task Force on matters that are within the Task Force’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda. 

 

Mr. Brooks inquired about recycling methods for residential olive oil and whether there was a way to collect the residual oil from bottles.  Ms. Ving stated that concentrating the oil in one container and bringing it to a recycling facility is the method that is available at this time.

 

14.  Adjournment.  The Biodiesel Access Task Force meeting adjourned at 12:07 p.m.

 

** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Task Force office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) upon request to the Task Force Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709 or via e-mail at Monica.Fish@sfgov.org, or (3) on the meeting website as attachments to the agendas or meeting minutes.   

 

*Approved: August 12, 2009  

 

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