Green mandate a slow process in South City

South San Francisco officials say they are on target to meet state emissions standards set by landmark legislation passed in 2006 to counter global warming — more than 10 years ahead of the deadline.

South San Francisco officials have been proactive in lowering emissions, said Terry White, the city’s public works director.

According to the California Global Warming Solutions Act, which was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger with much fanfare on Treasure Island in 2006, the state is required to reduce its emissions by 20 percent by the year 2020.

“We simply must do everything in our power to slow down global warming before it’s too late,” Schwarzenegger said at the time of the bill signing.

South City currently has four hybrid vehicles, three electric carts, one propane-operated sweeper and four police cars capable of running on ethanol.  The city has also retrofitted 20 percent of its vehicle fleet to allow for the use of biodiesel fuel, with a goal this year to bring that up to 60 percent, according to city documents. 

South City has 300 pieces of motorized equipment, which includes generators as well as vehicles, White said.

“The law is far enough out that we are able to roll over our equipment,” White said. “As cars and things are being replaced, we are looking to buy new trucks and cars that are hybrids and have lower emissions.”

As required by the law, the state’s emissions limit by 2020 is 427 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases. In 2000, California was emitting 425 metric tons and growing at a rate of 1 percent each year, according to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.  To meet the 2020 target, cities are required to adopt reduction measures by the start of 2011, according to the California Air Resources Board, which oversees the bill.

The next step is for the city to begin replacing filters on diesel trucks to reduce the particulate matter released into the air, White said.

“It’s expensive,” he said. “But we’re getting it done.”

Fuel is not the only focus the city has for reducing emissions, White said. At the South San Francisco wastewater treatment plant, efforts are being made to reduce the use of electricity.

The plant converts methane gas made at the plant to power 25 percent of the building, he said. Officials hope to make it 75 percent in the next 10 years.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

 

Going green

Goal: To reduce California emissions by 20 percent by the year 2020

– California currently emits 425 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent
– The 2020 goal is 427 million metric tons
– South San Francisco's fleet includes four hybrid vehicles, three electric carts, one propane-operated sweeper and four police cars capable of running on Ethanol

 Source: California Air Resources Board; South San Francisco

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