08.11 Draft Minutes







TUESDAY, AUGUST 11, 2009, 11:00 A.M.






COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Eric Bowen (Chair), Richard Berman, Joe Burgard, Kate Horner, Karri Ving



1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Biodiesel Marine Committee meeting convened at 11:25 a.m.  Present:  Chair Bowen, Members Berman and Ving. Excused: Member Burgard.


2.      Approval of the August 12, 2008 Biodiesel Marine Committee Regular Meeting Draft Minutes.  (Discussion and Action).  Ms. Fish explained that the Committee has not met since August 2008, which is why the August 12, 2008 meeting minutes are on this agenda for approval. Upon Motion by Member Ving and second by Member Berman, the August 12, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Chair Bowen, Members Berman and Ving; Absent:  Member Burgard) (Explanatory Document: August 12, 2008 Approved Meeting Minutes).


3.      Darling Biodiesel Plant and Marine Fueling Dock.  (Discussion)  Member Berman stated that the Darling lease was placed on hold while it was reviewed a second time for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) determination, which has not yet been published.  The first categorically exempt determination made in October/November 2008 was challenged, and the process for re-evaluation was initiated some months ago.  Independently, but parallel to that process, the Port initiated two community meetings, the first one of which was held, and the second is scheduled in September due to community concerns for holding a meeting in July or August.


Member Berman stated that Darling International is going to be meeting internally with the Port’s Fire Marshall and the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) to preview their plans and receive initial feedback.  Once that is done, the Port will schedule a second meeting with the community. The second meeting agenda is to include Fire Marshall, building permit and general operational issues and to revisit some remaining issues that were raised at the first meeting, specifically the health effects of the rendering air emissions.  Concerns were also raised that were independent of whether or not biodiesel is produced at the site that the Port will have to address as part of community concerns.


Chair Bowen inquired whether Darling disclosed what technology approach they would be using as part of this process. Member Berman stated that will be discussed at the pre-meeting with the Fire Marshall and DBI and will be presented at the community meeting.  One of the issues is to make sure that the risk of explosions would be avoided, that the process is safe, and all precautions are in place. It was explained that there was just an explosion in the Washington plant that correspondence was sent out about.  Chair Bowen stated that was caused either by off-site fireworks or someone onsite lighting fireworks that shouldn’t have been there.


Member Ving stated that there was a lot of community participation at the first public hearing, but that the second meeting seems to be more about day-to-day operations. Member Berman stated that was correct.  The initial meeting was to send the message that there is a lot of regulatory oversight and to disclose to the regulators what their independent responsibilities are. They have all these obligations to do due diligence regardless of what the Port or anybody else might think.  After this message was sent at the first meeting, the second meeting can be held to go over the actual operations, the changes that will take place if biodiesel moves forward and safety issues that would be in place.  Member Berman stated that he hopes that the second meeting will be well attended. Member Ving stated that there were about 25-35 people at the first meeting, mostly regulators.  Member Berman stated that there were three attendees from Darling, two from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), environmental justice folks, one from MEA, two from the Port, and then ten that were not representing the community directly, but were there out of interest.    


Member Berman stated that in reference to the marine fuel dock, the Port conducted an informal survey of vessel owners and truck drivers to gage their interest in having a combination land/water fueling dock and whether the Islais Creek area was a feasible location. The initial review from many of those who responded showed that the Islais Creek area was not a prime location. The survey did not shed light on the logistical liability of Hyde Street Harbor as a fuel dock for biodiesel, which will be part of the next discussion.  Mr. Escher, Red and White Fleet, has been an advocate of having a fuel dock at the Hyde Street Harbor, but the Port felt that there are some challenges and has to document their considerations and logistics and identify a definitive position as to whether to move forward on Hyde Street Harbor.  If any information emerges that suggests that the south is more viable than it currently appears, then it will be shared.  Member Berman stated that the north course is tricky and requires a review because there are land, infrastructure, draft, and vessel size issues in addition to different opinions about how willing the fishing fleet is to convert to biodiesel. 


Chair Bowen inquired about the location of Hyde Street Harbor.  Member Berman stated that it is located at Pier 47, is the GP Resources fuel dock, and the only fuel dock for the Port.  Member Ving stated that it sounds as if the Port feels it may be easier to install a new fuel dock in the south than to try to retrofit the old one because of infrastructure issues.  Member Berman stated that it is not so much a matter of ease, but in part the question of fuel dock requirements.  A fuel dock in the south provides several benefits including opportunities for larger vessels to fuel, fuel for vehicles and trucks, especially because the majority of trucks parking and traveling around the industrial area is more prevalent there.  There are constraints in the north that you don’t have in the south even though the demand is not as strong as was hoped.  What has to be done is to reexamine the equation of the demand and constraints and see what makes sense.  Right now there are two above-ground storage tanks for diesel, 20,000 gallon tanks at GP Resources. Reengineering would have to be done to either install a third tank for biodiesel or to modify the actual fuel dock to do splash blending, or somehow provide a variety of products to anybody pulling up.  Other issues include harbor constraints and the difficulty of fueling trucks. 


4.      Biodiesel Use in Ferries. Speakers: Chair Bowen and Dr. Randall von Wedel (Discussion).  Chair Bowen stated that Dr. von Wedel was not present to provide an update and may be able to do so at the Biodiesel Access Task Force meeting on August 12th if he is in attendance.  Chair Bowen stated that Dr. von Wedel recently held a meeting on biodiesel use in ferries and asked Member Berman who was in attendance to provide a report.  Member Berman stated that he attended part of the meeting, which was a gathering of folks who have an interest in ferries.  Ferry operators that were in attendance discussed ways to coordinate their collective interests in alternative fuel, biodiesel in particular, and providing good resources.  Dr. von Wedel provided a presentation, but new ideas were not discussed. It was portrayed as the first meeting to try to move the effort forward and was a good one because it was well attended, but no decisive positions were taken by the collective participants for the time that Member Berman was in attendance.  


Member Ving stated that her impression was that it was an opportunity to bring the survey participants together to show consensus, which was accomplished.  Chair Bowen stated that his understanding was that it was a kick-off meeting because a lot has happened since there was any engagement by the ferries.  Member Berman stated that it was also to discuss the issue of a fueling dock. If the Port was to provide a fueling dock, several ferries would not fit into that northern fuel dock that is currently there, so consideration has to be given to what makes sense for the larger or the most users and what the trade-offs would be. Member Berman stated that he hopes to initiate this discussion internally at the Port so that feedback can be provided as this group moves forward. 


Member Ving inquired whether the Red and White, Blue and Gold and Hornblower-fleets fuel in San Francisco.  Member Berman stated that the Red and White fleet fuels in San Francisco by truck.  Member Ving stated that the issue is that it has not been determined whether the fishing fleets would be amenable to biodiesel use. Member Berman stated that Mr. Escher had previously stated that he believes the fishing community would be receptive to biodiesel, but this information has not been confirmed by Port staff or the same information is not being received. It is necessary to clear up the uncertainties or mixed messages and produce something more definitive.  Chair Bowen stated that his sense is that if the fuel were convenient and priced appropriately, the experience in other regions of the country are that the fishing community would be receptive.  Chair Bowen stated that his experience in other regions of the country have shown that the fishing community are in favor of biodiesel use, but that it is not convenient and is expensive in this part of the country, and the fishing community are barely getting by as it is.  Member Berman expressed his concern that many of the fishing community have older vessels and would want to make sure that they don’t damage their equipment because most of it may be out of warranty.  More to the point, when they are out tens of miles in the ocean, they want to make sure they don’t break down, and if they are fueling down the coast, they want to make sure that what they are getting there is compatible with whatever modification that is made. There is a lot of traditional assistance that is needed to make sure the fishing community is clear about what they are taking on. 


Chair Bowen stated that one of the plants that he worked with in South Carolina sold most all of its early biodiesel to the shrimping fleets.  Member Berman asked how the concern with reliability was addressed. Chair Bowen stated that the biodiesel price was below the price of diesel so shrimpers were buying all they could purchase.  Member Berman asked if the price overwhelmed their concern for functionality and asked if there were any problems experienced.  Chair Bowen stated that no problems had been reported and it was presumably an old fleet. Member Ving stated that type of evidence would be valuable.  Member Ving stated that the San Francisco Port is one of the last Ports to get involved.  It was explained that the New York Harbor, Seattle, and even Los Angeles have maritime access to biodiesel, but are not government sponsored. 


Chair Bowen stated that the environmental laws in Northern California are stringent, which presents a challenge. In addition, in San Francisco and in Oakland, a lot of infrastructure is gone and the infrastructure that remains is not easily modified.  Chair Bowen stated that a lot of the biodiesel has been moved over the water in Los Angeles because it is all barge fuel, which is the same thing as pushing diesel.  Chair Bowen explained that California is behind the curve in infrastructure issues, e.g., one example is that we don’t have biodiesel in terminals, so it is not cost effective.  Member Berman stated that he was not aware that these challenges were solved elsewhere and that it is important to consult with other jurisdictions and apply findings to this area.  Member Ving stated that this would be an interesting technical memorandum/research project.  Member Berman stated that the fishing fleet evidence from South Carolina is a good example of something that has been addressed and indicated that he would inquire how their fuel was being acquired, whether it was by barge or another method.  


5.      Golden Gate Petroleum’s Survey to its Marine Vessel Customers of its B5 Biodiesel Use.  (Continued from the August 12, 2008 Meeting) (Discussion)  This agenda item was filed because of no follow-up response from Golden Gate Petroleum. 


6.      Recreational Boater Outreach and Education--condensed Boaters Guide to Biodiesel.  (Continued from the August 12, 2008 Meeting) (Discussion).  Member Ving stated that she has been requesting that Dr. von Wedel update his boater outreach and education pamphlet and is now working with his assistant on this effort.  It was stated that Dr. von Wedel would be attending the Biodiesel meeting on August 12 and could possibly provide a response during public comment or new business on his ability to provide this handbook to the Committee. Member Ving stated that Dr. von Wedel had also mentioned that this guidebook would have been useful in his discussions with boaters in Vancouver and Alaska. 


Member Ving stated that the Marine Committee is constantly deciding why it convenes and what tangible role it could have.  The Committee could provide this handbook to the Port, who has taken a lead on feasibility studies for establishing a marine fuel dock.  It would be a valuable service to provide a handout, a thick book, and even website access for the fishing community and different fleets on the use of biodiesel and what it means in the real world.  That is the handbook that Dr. von Wedel has created.    


7.      Sausalito Fuel Dock Location.  Summary of what steps were taken for installation of a fuel dock, the agencies involved, and their requirements. (Continued from the August 12, 2008 Meeting) (Information and Discussion)  Member Ving stated that she hasn’t heard that there has been any progress on the Sausalito fuel dock location in a long time and recommended inquiring about the status with Dr. von Wedel at the next Biodiesel Access Task Force meeting during public comment or new business. This item would remain as a future agenda item until confirmation is received from Dr. von Wedel.


8.      New Business/Future Agenda Items (Discussion).  Chair Bowen recommended that the Biodiesel Access Task Force at their October meeting consider whether to extend their sunset date past December 31, 2009 and whether to fold Marine Committee business into the full Task Force.  It was suggested that deliverables be defined and that it be made clear that there would be a need to provide continuous support to the Port on their exploratory activities.   


9.      Public Comment:  Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.  There was no public comment at this time.


10. Adjournment.  The Biodiesel Access Task Force Marine Committee adjourned at 11:56 a.m.


Respectfully submitted by,

Monica Fish, Task Force Secretary


** 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 [email protected], or (3) on the meeting website as attachments to the agendas or meeting minutes.



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