San Francisco scores major clean air grants

(June 6, 2007)

San Francisco The City's clean air projects will receive a welcome boost now that the Environment Department has secured nearly half a million dollars in state funding for clean diesel retrofits on city construction equipment, and for upgrading the city's compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling infrastructure.

The bulk of the funds that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) awarded San Francisco will help with the implementation of the Clean Construction Ordinance. The Ordinance, authored by Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, requires that the heavy-duty equipment used at city construction projects attain exceptionally high clean air standards, or run on biodiesel. The funds will be used to replace and retrofit two backhoes operated by the Department of Public Works, and to retrofit an additional eleven pieces of equipment including backhoes, loaders and grinders operated by DPW and the Recreation and Parks Department.

"Every San Franciscan has the right to clean and healthy air," said Supervisor Maxwell. "Since many construction sites are in parts of the city where the environmental quality is already impacted negatively by a power plant and other industry, it's a matter of environmental justice to make diesel construction equipment as clean as possible."

According to CARB, construction equipment is the single largest source of diesel pollution in the Bay Area. The San Francisco Bay Area is second only to Los Angeles in health impacts from diesel pollution. A recent study by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District determined that 80 percent of the airborne toxic cancer risk is from diesel emissions, and that the city's southeast has the highest concentrations of diesel emissions of any place in the Bay Area.

"Diesel exhaust is a toxic soup containing hundreds of different pollutants including very fine soot, which causes an array of health problems," observed Jared Blumenfeld, Director of the Environment Department. "Public health issues surrounding diesel exhaust include increased rates of asthma, cancer, respiratory stress, cardiac conditions, and increased levels of dioxin."

In addition to cleaning up construction equipment, $111,000 will go towards upgrading the city's two newest CNG fueling stations, which are located in the maintenance yards for DPW and the Recreation & Parks Department.

"Grants like these are good news for San Francisco," said City Administrator Ed Lee. "In times of tight budgets and competing priorities, outside funding helps us meet and exceed our environmental goals."