National Biodiesel Foundation tours NYC’s sustainable side

By Paul Winters | May 13, 2019

The National Biodiesel Foundation hosted a small group of congressional staffers April 26 on a tour of New York City, highlighting the theme, “Sustainable Biodiesel: Improving the Environment and Economy.” The annual tour is designed to educate interested congressional staff about New York City’s use of biodiesel as a key part of meeting its environmental goals.

The tour kicked off with a visit to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation headquarters, the Arsenal, in Central Park. Jonathan Ells, director of fleet sustainability within the citywide administrative services department, discussed how he is implementing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Clean Fleet Plan. The mayor’s plan is designed to reduce emissions from the municipal fleet 50 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2035. The city’s parks department has a 2,228-vehicle fleet ranging from garbage trucks to lawn mowers that currently runs on B20.

Ells was joined by Keith Kerman, the deputy commissioner and chief fleet officer within the citywide administrative services department. Kerman directs all aspects of the city’s fleet operations, including repair, acquisitions, performance measurement, sustainability, fuel, contracting, emergency, safety and risk management. He noted that the city also blends biodiesel in all heating oil for municipal operations. The city’s goal is to use 100 percent renewable fuel—80 percent renewable diesel and 20 percent biodiesel—in its diesel fleet.

The next stop on the tour was the city’s fire department vehicle maintenance facility in Queens. There, Mark Aronberg, the assistant fire commissioner, and Andy Diamond, the executive director of fleet operations, discussed the city emergency vehicle fleet’s very positive experience with biodiesel. The New York City fire department is the largest municipal fire department in the U.S. and the second largest in the world, serving more than 8 million residents within a 322 square-mile area. The facility maintains almost 1,000 pieces of equipment for the city’s emergency vehicle fleet, which has been using biodiesel blends for several years and plans to expand biodiesel use in the future.

During lunch, city councilman Costa Constantinides representing Astoria, Queens, shared why he is a champion for biodiesel and Bioheat. The councilman’s district is home to the Astoria Generating Station, which provides nearly half the city’s electricity. He noted that the prevalence of asthma and related hospital visits are consistently higher in his district compared to the rest of the city. Constantinides, the main sponsor of city legislation passed in 2016 requiring 20 percent biodiesel in heating oil by 2034, explained that biodiesel can cut emissions of particulate matter and have a positive effect on lung health.

The tour continued at the Randall’s Island vehicle maintenance facility for the city parks department. The facility is home to one of the largest green roofs on a municipal building in New York City and continually seeks opportunities to use renewable energy and materials, including soy tires.

To wrap up, biodiesel producers took the opportunity to discuss facts about federal biofuel policies. Shawn Triscuit, director of sales for Hero BX in Erie, Pennsylvania, Bill Horan, chairman of the board and CEO of Western Iowa Energy and Kevin Ross, director of WIE, shared their views on the industry’s evolution before and after implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard and federal biodiesel tax incentive. Horan has been a farmer for 46 years and is a partner in Horan Brothers Agricultural Enterprises in Rockwell City, Iowa. Kevin and his wife operate a 1200-acre farm and 130-head cattle operation near Minden, Iowa. Triscuit began his career at Hero BX as a lead operations technician and then managed daily operations before being promoted to sales director. Hero BX provides some of the biodiesel that New York City uses to meet its sustainability goals. 

The tour sparked a discussion about how federal policies have helped cities achieve environment, health and sustainability goals by supporting the biodiesel industry. The National Biodiesel Foundation extended thanks to additional sponsors of the tour, including Incobrasa, Mid-America Biofuels, Western Dubuque Biodiesel, Renewable Energy Group, and Iowa Renewable Energy.

Author: Paul Winters

Director of Public Affairs and Federal Communications

National Biodiesel Board

202-737-8801

pwinters@biodiesel.org

 

 
 
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