City Vehicle Fleet Getting More Alternative

City of Austin four months away from being halfway to a biofuel vehicle fleet.

Within the next four months, more than half of the city of Austin’s vehicle fleet will be running on alternative fuels, including biodiesel and ethanol, thanks to a six-year, six million gallon, $138 million biofuel supply contract approved Jan. 31 by city council.

The move was prompted by the Austin Climate Protection Plan’s carbon-neutral city fleet by 2020 goal. A blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% low emissions diesel (B20) will power the city’s 1,138 diesel trucks, 248 “flex-fuel” vehicles will use E85 or 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, and 2,023 gas-powered nonflex-fuel rides will use gasoline blended with 10% ethanol (E10). The city also currently has 151 hybrids, 244 propane-powered vehicles, and six running on compressed natural gas.

“We’re taking baby steps,” said Ester Matthews, the city’s Climate Protection Plan director.

Matthews said the city is conducting a detailed carbon analysis of its entire fleet and is anticipating the commercial availability plug-in hybrids within the next few years, as well as considering the construction of a biodiesel plant, perhaps tapping algae used to treat city waste water. The city discussed making biofuels available to the public at one or more of its 40-plus fueling stations, but that no such plans exist today, she said.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, ExxonMobil, the world’s second-largest corporation and a famous climate change denial monger, broke its own record for yearly profits (and the U.S. record), pocketing $40.6 billion in 2007. Exxpose Exxon, a coalition of prominent green groups, has called for an ExxonMobil products boycott, based on Exxon’s efforts to stifle climate change reforms and its refusal of a $4.5 billion court-ordered settlement to an Alaskan fisherman impacted by the 1989 Exon Valdez oil spill, among other reasons. See for more.

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