> Terry Trumbull


> Diesel Fuel: Toxic Emissions and Power


>Terry Trumbull, an attorney in private practice, is Environmental

>Health Chairman of the American Lung Association, and a faculty

>member in the Environmental Studies Department at San Jose State

>University, specializing in environmental law. He is also a Santa

>Clara County Planning Commissioner from the north county area.

>Terry will describe the significant negative impact on air quality

>in the valley resulting from the diesel emissions from buses and

>emergency electric generators.


Terry began his talk by explaining that the Lung Association sees diesel smog as being in the same category as tobacco smoke, meaning that it is a soup of compounds that are bad for your health. He went on to explain that because the prevailing winds blow south, all of the air pollution from San Francisco and San Mateo Counties comes down here, which is why Gilroy and Morgan Hill have the worst air qualities in the bay area. Diesel fumes seem to be the most unregulated parts of the cloud at this time, which is why they are focusing on it.

The "emergency generators" are further proof of that old theory problems seem to ooze around to whatever the least regulation is. They were originally intended to provide backup protection for electricity interruptions, but companies found that if they got electricity contracts that allowed producers to interrupt, the price was about 30% lower. Also, they could save even more money by running the generators to drive their loads more often, resulting in situations where "emergency generators" are being used as much as a day a week, or even more in many cases.

This is alarming to Terry, because the exhaust pipes from these generators were not designed for ongoing use. Accordingly, the emissions are so bad that he estimates that for every two hours that one is run, somebody gets cancer. The Lung Association is working to get the cities to regulate them, but they are having a lot of trouble because nobody wants to be the first one to take on the big companies that make the things.

Over the past year or so the Lung Association also worked to try and get the VTA to buy clean fuel busses, but apparently the deal fell through. The board recently voted 7 to 5 to go for more diesel busses, even though David Dias attended many meetings and spoke frequently for the natural gas powered ones. The main problem seemed to be that Ron Gonzalez, the Mayor, wanted the diesel ones.

Tian Harter