Oh, For the Clean Air of the 50´s!
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
August 22, 2002

Yes I can remember the distinctly fresh smell of clean air in our City!  Those days seem to have passed to the point of being a distant memory.  And although there are some things of the past I do not miss, like slow and painful drills in the dentist's chair, there are some things I really do miss.  Frankly, if my lungs and heart could speak, they would surely agree.

Yes, the smog we sadly witness all too frequently can and should be eliminated.  As your Commissioner, I recently visited with Art Buford, our fleet manager for Bexar County.  Mr. Buford informed me that Bexar County is a stakeholder in "Clean Cities", along with HEB, Star Shuttle, Yanaguana Cruises, VIA, Northside ISD and other entities public and private.  I had previously been only generally acquainted with the Clean Cities program.

As stated in their Website located at http://cleancities.energy.gov/ (External Site), "The U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities Program supports public-private partnerships that deploy alternative fuel vehicles and build supporting alternative fuel infrastructure. Our site features information about local coalitions and clean corridors, alternative fuel news and events, fleet success stories, support and funding, tips for starting a coalition in your area, available alternative fuel vehicles, related links and more." 

Bexar County's alternative fuel of choice is propane.  Propane is a clean fuel, readily available in South Texas and its driving range is very similar to gasoline.  And, it costs less per gallon than gasoline!

In my chat with our Fleet Manager, I was also delighted to learn that more than 49% of our "eligible fleet" in the Public Works Division of Bexar County is running on propane.  "Eligible fleet" means vehicles smaller than 26,000 pounds gross weight and those not assigned to law enforcement.  Also, our Environmental Services Department is 100% propane!  And as a bonus, we hope to sell our used propane vehicles to the public to introduce others to low emissions vehicles.

At present, we are researching "drop in" fuels (fuels that do not require any modifications to the engine to use them) for possible use in our heavy-duty fleet.  Fuels such as bio-diesel and ultra low sulfur diesel are also considered alternative fuels and are able to reduce emissions.

Aside from the breath of fresh air many would value, there is the reality that the Environment Protection Agency has mandated a cleanup and placed some very onerous penalties on communities that fail to heed requirements.  Dallas and Houston are both in non-attainment and they have suffered from penalties accruing to this designation.  San Antonio is the largest city in the nation that has not been declared in non-attainment.   However we had a number of events recently that may end that.  To its credit, this community's response has been to fight dirty air, not the federal agency that seeks to clean the air.

It will continue to be the goal of this Commissioner to see to it that your County leads the way back to the clean air of yesteryear.  And yes, we are thinking of those with emphysema and asthma, as well as those with heart and lung challenges.  So while there are some things about the past we would bring back and some we would be happy to leave in the past, my efforts will be to ensure that to the extent possible, each and every one of us can literally "breathe easy".  Won't you join me?

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