San Francisco Department of the Environment

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Mayor Mark Farrell, City Agencies Announce that Bay Area Ferry Fleet Will Make Historic Transition to Renewable Diesel

Bay Area ferries to become first in nation to adopt environmentally-responsible standards.

April 12, 2018

San Francisco, CA— Mayor Mark Farrell, the Department of the Environment and the Port of San Francisco today announced that ferries serving the Bay Area will transition to renewable diesel, becoming the first region in the nation to adopt the environmentally-responsible fuel standard.

“San Francisco is and always will be a leader in protecting our planet,” said Mayor Farrell. “As the federal administration fails to act on this crucial issue, San Francisco will be at the forefront of environmental leadership for the nation and the world. To protect our region and our environment, we are taking climate action now.”

Switching to renewable diesel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent or more, and it can also reduce other emissions such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. Renewable diesel is not a fossil fuel. It is made from nonpetroleum renewable resources like natural fats, vegetable oils, and greases and works just like regular diesel.

The San Francisco Bay Area water fleet’s transition to renewable diesel has cleared a potential path for all water fleets worldwide to use renewable diesel. To reach this achievement, San Francisco has collaborated with every level of government, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency, United States Department of Transportation, National Parks Service, California Air Resources Board, California Department of Agriculture and the California Coast Guard. 

In addition, collaboration with science-based organizations such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and with fuel providers and engine manufacturers, led to success that can be replicated wherever water fleet engines are retailed. 

“San Francisco has a world-class waterfront, and today, we are celebrating a world-class commitment to reducing fossil fuel use on our Bay,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of the San Francisco Department of Environment. “Transitioning our water fleet to renewable diesel demonstrates what’s possible when the public and private sector work together towards shared environmental goals. We can improve air quality and deliver high-quality, sustainable transportation options for everyone who lives, works, and visits San Francisco.”

Red and White Fleet made the switch in late 2017. The San Francisco Fire Department has committed to transition all fire boats to renewable diesel in 2018. Bay Area ferries and excursion providers, including Golden Gate Ferry, Hornblower Cruises, Blue and Gold, and Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) will begin the transition process through 2019 to renewable diesel, which will include specific field testing in higher-performing marine engines. The Port’s public fuel dock at Hyde Street Harbor, which is operated by Maxum Petroleum, will transition in 2018.

Hornblower Cruises committed to switching in 2018. Other Bay Area ferries and excursion providers, including Golden Gate Ferry, Blue and Gold Fleet, and the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) will transition in 2019. The Port’s public fuel dock at Hyde Street Harbor, which is operated by Maxum Petroleum, will transition in 2018.

“San Francisco is not only a hub for knowledge of clean maritime transportation, it is one of action,” said Elaine Forbes, Executive Director of the Port of San Francisco. “At a time with increased water transit ridership, we are pleased to partner with our ferry and excursion providers to be on the forefront of climate action and environmental leadership for our City and nation.”

This project is one example of the City’s collaborative leadership of environmental initiatives, which includes the Embarcadero Seawall Program, an interagency effort to rebuild the Seawall to improve seismic and adapt to sea level rise.

Our home. Our city. Our planet.