Larry F. Bligh
May 13, 1996
Editor - Open Forum
The San Francisco Chronicle
901 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103-2988
I have just recently become aware of an article published in your paper on 5/2/96, by Bill Wattenburg titled "Behind State's Rising Gas Prices." I would like to take this opportunity to share with you, and your readers, some of the "facts" as they pertain to the development and testing done with our state's new Cleaner Burning Gasoline by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
As a businessman, and as the manager of one of the largest privately owned fleets in the State of California, that drives in excess of 51 million miles per year, it certainly can be understood how I feel that I have a vested interest in any development that will effect overall operations and expense. The development and testing of our state's new Cleaner Burning Gasoline was by no means an exception.
I personally worked very closely with CARB during their extensive evaluation of the reformulated fuel. I worked to provide CARB with both a test and control fleet for the evaluation process. During the first evaluation period, I provided 254 vehicles to the test fleet, and 157 vehicles to a control fleet. During the test period, our test fleet of vehicles consumed approximately 128,000 gallons of the reformulated fuel, and accumulated in excess of 1.2 million miles. I also worked with CARB on a second operations test of the reformulated fuel, providing 498 vehicles to a test fleet, consuming approximately 78,000 gallons of fuel, and accumulating in excess of 745,000 miles.
During both of the test periods, CARB was very diligent in their control of the test programs. CARB worked closely with the test and control fleets to insure that accurate data and results were secured. The test and evaluation protocols established by CARB, were in my opinion, very well thought out, and had the best interests of the citizens of the State of California in mind. Their primary objective was to insure that the fuel that had been developed with the hopes of significantly impacting our air quality, would be a viable fuel for the transportation needs for all Californians.
While I am not an accomplished scientist as is Mr. Wattenburg, I am able to fully understand that nothing of value comes without a cost. However, with the experience I have had using the reformulated fuel during the controlled tests, I feel that the reduced miles per gallon (MPG) information Mr. Wattenburg has referred to in his article is certainly grossly exaggerated. I can assure you, that during the test periods I have referred to, nothing near the figures of a 10 to 15 percent reduction as reported by Mr. Wattenburg were ever experienced. In fact, our experience with the reformulated fuel found an MPG reduction somewhere in the area of slightly over only one percent. A small price to pay for what appears to be a "significant positive environmental improvement."
Again, while not being a scientist, I must question Mr. Wattenburg's comments regarding the decision for the introduction of the reformulated fuel prior to the year 2000. Does Mr. Wattenburg suggest that we should not take advantage of this advanced technology prior to the required introduction by federal EPA regulations, reducing tons of emissions between now and the year 2000? Has Mr. Wattenburg looked at how fuel prices have risen in the rest of the country without the introduction of our reformulated fuel? Also, with Mr. Wattenburg's comments regarding reduced MPG performance and his opinion that with any reduced MPG, the fact is that we are "being forced to put more pollutants back in the air," I would question if Mr. Wattenburg understands how fuels vary in their energy content, and what we are dealing with here, are with the quantifiable and measurable reductions in overall emissions?
I would end by saying, that I personally commend the work that has been done by CARB. I feel that they have done nothing but work for the best interests of the citizens of the State of California, of which I am one. I hope that we all understand that we have a serious air quality issue at hand, and we need to take quick and decisive action to clean the air we breath, leaving our world intact for our future generations. Certainly all of our answers do not lie in this reformulated fuel, however, it does appear to be a significant step in the right direction.
Larry F. Bligh
217 Bent Twig Ave
Camarillo, CA 93012