07.09.12 Policy Committee Meeting Approved Minutes





MONDAY, JULY 9, 2012, 5:00 P.M.




COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Commissioners Johanna Wald (Chair), Ruth Gravanis (Vice-Chair).




  1. Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:09 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Wald and Gravanis.


  1. Approval of Minutes of the June 11, 2012 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Explanatory Document: June 11, 2012 Policy Committee Draft and Approved Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis, second by Commissioner Wald, the June 11, 2012 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners Wald and Gravanis).


  1. Public Comments:  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.


  1. Briefing on Supervisor Chiu’s Plan to Promote Water Delivery Infrastructure.  (Explanatory Document:  Bottle Filling Stations Draft Ordinance) Sponsors: Commissioners Wald and Gravanis; Director Melanie Nutter; Speaker: Catherine Rauschuber, Legislative Aide to Supervisor Chiu (Informational Report and Discussion)

Ms. Catherine Rauschuber reported on the Ordinance sponsored by Supervisor David Chiu to amend the San Francisco Environment Code to require that the project sponsor for any new construction or change in occupancy that would already be required to install drinking fountains provide an equal number of “Drink Tap Stations”. This requirement would also apply to the project sponsor for a major plumbing alteration that would affect the plumbing system that supplies an existing drinking fountain. She discussed San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (SFPUC) involvement in installing water bottle refilling stations in San Francisco (locations are listed at http://www.drink.sfwater.org/).  Ms. Rauschuber reported on the role of the SFPUC, Department of the Environment and Department of Building Inspection (DBI) in implementing this legislation (see explanatory document) and potential enforcement mechanisms.   The legislation was introduced at the Board of Supervisors on June 26 and is on a 30-day hold before the Board can act on it possibly in early August. 

Ms. Rauschuber reported on Plumbing Code requirements for commercial and public buildings with occupancy of 30 or more people to have one fountain for every 150 occupants.  She stated that the intent is to improve the green infrastructure in San Francisco, but that the impact these stations would have would not be calculated.  Commissioner Wald suggested that the Department of Building Inspection provide an estimated-average of new construction and changes in occupancy permits that are expected. Ms. Rauschuber reported that DBI  will be keeping a list of units installed in the first three years and will report to the Board of Supervisors annually on the number of installations.

Commissioners suggested initiating a public message campaign advertising the availability of these stations at locations throughout the city so that people will be aware of where they can fill up their water bottles.  Director Nutter discussed the Department’s role in providing outreach and education for this program that relates to the Department’s zero waste goals and plans to identify the scope of work and required resources.   Commissioner Wald asked to convey her concern that the legislation is an unfunded mandate and asked to include a statement in the legislation that would encourage the SFPUC to work with the Department of the Environment to develop a comprehensive plan for outreach and education for San Francisco residents.  

Commissioner Wald suggested adding a provision that the developer of public sites or buildings that are open to the public and have a high volume of traffic be encouraged or required to install a counter to keep track of water usage.  Director Nutter suggested consulting with the San Francisco Airport as to the impact of water bottle refilling station installations at the United Airlines station and whether the purchase of plastic water bottles has been reduced as a result.

Commissioner Gravanis suggested that program enforcement be added to DBI’s role. Commissioner Wald suggested consulting with New York and Chicago or other applicable cities on their enforcement and measurement activities.  Ms. Rauschuber reported that Concord, Massachusetts has banned the individual sale of water bottles.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested developing a smartphone application listing the locations of water-filling stations that could also be part of the outreach development program.  Director Nutter reported on an idea to create an application mapping all of the City’s green assets.

Public Comment: 

Mr. Kevin Drew of Department staff discussed the feasibility of installing an electric meter on the Global Water Tap stations to measure water usage at the time of installation instead of retrofit.  Mr. William Zeller of Department staff reported that an electronic meter can be installed to measure water usage.

Mr. William Zeller inquired about the legality of single-serve water bottles at city events.  Ms. Rauschuber reported that single-serve water bottles are not legal at large Port events and expansion of this requirement at other city events would be a good next step.  Mr. Zeller reported on an event he attended where truck-loads of gallon bottles were used to fill up water-coolers and the large amount of recycling that resulted.  He suggested that the SFPUC or rental companies consider providing tankers to fill up water coolers for events instead of using truck-loads of gallon bottles of water.  Mr. Drew reported that there are existing water delivery operations that provide this service but are not always well known.  Director Nutter reported that the Zero Waste team was essential in creating the Port policy, and that staff discussions are being held with City agencies that are involved in events to discuss methods of providing water and barriers to overcome.  

Mr. Eric Brooks, Sustainability Chair, San Francisco Green Party and Our City, spoke in support of the legislation and his opposition to single-serve water bottles.  He suggested providing information in the public education material on the recyclability of plastic water bottles that he stated are actually down-cycled.  He suggested upgrading to filtered water stations as an added incentive. Commissioner Gravanis reported that water delivery operations are available to provide filtered water for city events.

Mr. David Pilpel commented on legislation content and suggested adding a line stating that DBI’s cost of implementing this legislation shall be included in their funding fee recovery.  He suggested that a list of public and private locations be made available until the time when the stations are more prevalent in San Francisco.  Mr. Pilpel spoke in favor of measuring water usage and discussed costs that would be applied for water usage.  

Commissioner Wald stated that it is important to see how much people use the stations, but pointed out that metrics of use should not be the deciding factor as to whether this program is successful.  Commissioner Gravanis discussed the importance of this program in reducing the number of water bottles that are sold, and that would be more of an applicable measurement.

  1. Briefing on the San Francisco Transportation Biofuels Planning Study and Next Steps. (Explanatory Documents:  San Francisco Transportation Biofuels Planning Study and Presentation)  Sponsor:  Melanie Nutter, Director; Speaker:  William Zeller, Manager, Clean Vehicle Programs (15 minutes) (Informational Report and Discussion)

Mr. William Zeller reported that the San Francisco Transportation Biofuels Planning Study is a preliminary study that will be revised in the future.  Goals of the study were to develop a baseline of all the transportation fuels that the city currently uses, assess the impact of the fuels, and identify potential transportation biofuel options.  He explained that biodiesel was the only available fuel at the start of the City’s commitment in 2006, and that there are now new biofuels on the market and other options available.  An analytical tool is being developed to analyze the cost-effectiveness of the different fuels using a consistent methodology for comparison.  The overarching goal is to utilize all available biofuels in the highest and best way and in a cost-effective manner.  The source of data was derived from information provided by City departments and from statewide or nationwide databases.  Discussions are being held with City departments on assumptions that were made.  

Mr. Zeller presented an Executive Summary of the report discussing topics that include:

  • Authors of the Study--Mr. William Zeller, Mr. Jason Barbose, and Mr. Yuri Yakubov (p. 1).
  • Where are we now?  2006 B20 Mayor’s Directive requiring all City departments that use diesel fuel to convert to Biodiesel B20 by 2007.  Today most departments have reached ~B10 due to issues regarding logistics of handling fuel and how it works in vehicles (p. 1).
  • Evaluation Criteria to (1) maximize greenhouse gas emission reductions and sustainability; (2) minimize total fuels costs and adverse impacts on criteria emissions; and (3) ensure availability of fuel (p. 2).
  • Baseline Greenhouse Gas (GHG) footprint for the San Francisco Fleet by Fuel Type and Consumption for Fiscal Year 09-10 (p. 2).
  • Baseline Fuel Cost for Fiscal Year 10-11 by Fuel Type and Retail Fuel Price from 2006 to 2012 (p. 3).
  • Fuel Price Trend Relative to Diesel by Fuel Type from 2006 to 2012 (p. 4).
  • Current Fuel Analysis Matrix by fuel, GHG emissions, fuel and infrastructure costs, availability, feedstocks, and criteria emissions (p. 4).
  • Fueling Mix Potential Scenarios and Total Tons of CO2 Emissions by Scenario (p. 5).
  • Total Cost of Fuel Mix Scenarios and Cost Effectiveness of GHG Reductions (p. 6).
  • Biomethane Pros and Cons (p. 7).
  • Steps to Achieve Biomethane Scenario and Primary Conclusions (p. 8)
  • Next Steps for the Study Process and Citywide Vision (p. 9-10).

Commissioner Wald inquired whether there is a trend as to how the City is doing with fuel usage and driving less. Commissioner Gravanis suggested that one of the City’s environmental goals should be conservation, to not only use the best fuels, but to drive less. Director Nutter reported that the Clean Transportation Team is working on an ordinance mandating that City fleets are reduced five percent per year for the next five years.  Mr. Zeller reported that he will be making suggestions to monitor fuel usage and will report back to the Committee.  

Commissioner Wald inquired about the issues surrounding the use of food waste as opposed to sewage sludge to produce biomethane.  Mr. Kevin Drew discussed the benefits of utilizing food waste to make compost because it is a source separated organic stream and the issues surrounding the use of sludge, which contains metals and has toxicity issues.  Commissioner Wald suggested that SFPUC and San Francisco Environment staff hold a briefing and make a commitment to develop joint recommendations to the Board of Supervisors and Mayor. Mr. Drew suggested holding a joint Commission meeting with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to discuss the use of sludge in producing biomethane.

Commissioner Gravanis inquired about technologies that may be available to prevent leakage into the atmosphere from production and transportation of natural gas.  Commissioner Wald reported that there is technology available, but it is not widely utilized. She inquired whether technology would be available to prevent biomethane leakage.  Mr. Zeller reported that California Air Resources Board (CARB) figures include greenhouse gas emission numbers from methane leakage, and that this question would be researched and a report provided to the Committee at a future date.

Public Comment:  

Mr. Eric Brooks, Sustainability Chair, San Francisco Green Party and Our City, provided the Committee with explanatory documents (1) Cornell University, Preliminary Assessment of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Natural Gas obtained by Hydraulic Fracturing; (2) Institute for European Environmental Policy, Anticipated Indirect Land Use Change Associated with Expanded Use of Biofuels and Bioliquids in the European Union—An Analysis of the National Renewable Energy Action Plans and (3) AEA Energy and Environment, Analysis of the Environmental Impacts of Government Support from Biodiesel Production from Tallow, and (4) Public Comment to Commissioners. 

Mr. Brooks made the following comments: Biofuel, Biomass and Biomethane energy sources are highly problematic due to 1) Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) which causes dramatic negative impacts on food agriculture, subsistence farming, forest ecosystems, and local sustainable economies, and generates habitat destruction which almost invariably leads to higher (not lower) greenhouse gas emissions than the fossil fuels that they are replacing, 2) improperly burns plant and crop "wastes" releasing their CO2 back into the atmosphere when these materials should instead be returned to the soil as compost where much of their carbon will be stored in the ground (so that we can much more rapidly reverse the climate crisis) 3) uses animal tallow and other food animal 'wastes' that are already being fully utilized by other industries, forcing those other industries to turn to crop-based oils like palm, soy, and canola to produce their products, thereby triggering exactly the same ILUC problems cited in point 1, and 4) in the case of increased biomethane production will result in widespread methane
leakage, with methane being at least 70 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2 over the next 20 or more years; a problem that drastically exacerbates near term climate crisis tipping points. Because of these realities, it is crucial that the City and all of its departments completely repeal all existing biodiesel mandates and only maintain the very small Greasecycle program; and design any biomethane project to only utilize biomethane that is already being produced by landfills, treatment facilities, and farms, but to under no circumstances use waste materials to generate increased methane production of any kind.

Mr. David Pilpel reported on upcoming SFPUC discussions about replacing digesters in San Francisco’s southeast sector and SFPUC staff recommendations for a new biosolids facility.  He stated that he believes SFPUC has embraced the concept of food-collection and believes in separating food waste from biosolids so the two are not comingled.  He suggested that Department staff attend SFPUC Commission workshops to provide staff perspective.  Mr. Pilpel discussed the cost-effectiveness of purchasing and selling energy versus using gas to produce energy.  Mr. Zeller discussed the need for high-level citywide policies to address these issues. 

Mr. Andrew More O’Ferrall, inquired about the most efficient use of Hetch Hetchy electricity given the predictive base load characteristics of electrical use at waste-water treatment plants for San Francisco. Use electricity in the grid in general or use it to run pumps and motors? Had the efficiency characteristics been looked at of using natural gas in a centralized location (can any heat produced during electricity generation in an on-site process be also used for other processes in sludge processing for example) or did it make more sense to keep this energy stored in gaseous form and then use it in more of a distributed fashion to power individual vehicles in a fleet (of vehicles). In considering this latter point, it seems quite important to look at other fleet alternatives such as EVs and to not just look at this point in isolation. Efficiency, air quality and full life cycle capital cost of central equipment and fleet upgrades (biofuel vs EVs) and how much electricity is used in the first place are all complex issues for consideration, especially when considering the long lived nature of these infrastructure investments.

Next steps--Director Nutter reported that she would reach out to the Public Utilities Commission to discuss collaboration with staff and the Commission.  Mr. Zeller would provide a range of biomethane across different fuel types, a report on methane leakage, and City fuel reduction.


  1. Identify Action Items to Achieve Selected Goals for Calendar Year 2012.  (Continued from the June 11, 2012 Meeting) Sponsor:  Commissioner Johanna Wald (Discussion and Possible Action). This agenda item was continued to the August 13, 2012 meeting.


  1. Director’s Report and Updates.  (Explanatory Document:  Director’s Report) Speaker: Melanie Nutter, Director (Informational Report and Discussion). Director Nutter provided a written Director’s Report and discussed Department staff and personnel changes.


  1. Announcements. (Discussion)  There were no announcements made at this time. 


  1. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)  This agenda topic was not discussed at this time.

Public Comment:  Mr. David Pilpel inquired about the scheduling for the next Commission retreat and suggested that discussion of the retreat be added as a Committee or Commission meeting discussion item.

  1. Public Comments:  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.


  1. Adjournment.  The Commission Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 7:09 p.m. 


The next regular meeting of the Commission on the Environment Policy Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 13, 2012 and will be held in Room 421, City Hall.


Respectfully submitted by Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

Telephone (415) 355-3709; Fax (415) 554-6393


** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) on the Policy Committee’s website http://www.sfenvironment.org/commission/agendas with each set of minutes, or (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary at telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at [email protected].   

Posted:  August 13, 2012