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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Skepticism about City diesel fuel environmentalism

In response to the following newspaper story:

"The city of Corvallis is switching its 55-vehicle vehicle diesel fleet to renewable fuels . . . the city will convert to R-99, which is 1 percent petroleum and 99 percent renewable. The renewable diesel is a mixture of vegetable oils and animal fats. . . Earlier, the city had experimented with biodiesel but found that it contributed to more wear and tear on vehicle systems. The conversion to renewable diesel is expected to lead to an annual savings of 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, said Scott Dybvad, city sustainability program specialist. . . "
(Quoted from James Day, "City's diesel fleet switching to renewable fuel," posted Apr. 25, 2016)

I submitted the following letter to the editor in response to the above news story:

The diesel fleet run by the city of Corvallis is switching to R-99 fuel, which consists of a mixture of vegetable oils and animal fats, to reduce its "carbon footprint."

This is probably why the passengers in buses and automobiles, who get stuck behind a City diesel vehicle in traffic, are sickened by the smell of burnt, stale French fries, or even worse.

While I applaud the City's environmentalism, I am skeptical about the benefits of renewable diesel fuels because anything smelling that bad can't be good.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Sustainable, but bad-smelling," Gazette-Times, Apr. 28, 2016, p. A7, posted online Apr. 27, 2016)

I must point out that my letter did not distinguish between biodiesel and "renewable diesel" fuels because I do not know if one fuel smells better or worse, but my point is still valid because in either case a diesel engine will smell bad. Also, the recent story of Volkswagen falsifying its environmental tests on their diesel engines is only loosely unrelated, but Volkswagen's vast experience with diesel engines only feeds my skepticism about the cleanliness of diesel engines, both environmentally and in terms of them making humans sick breathing the fumes.