Gigantic plumes of black smoke rose into the air above the San Francisco Bay last morning. The local residents of Richmond were issued a shelter-in-place warning; living in the area, I saw the warning before I read the news and got a very scared for a few minutes. Wet towels were placed beneath doorways and in windowsills. And as a giant fire raged through a Chevron oil refinery, we were all reminded of the huge environmental cost of burning fossil fuels.

A chilling video of the fire can be seen here.

Here is the immediate damage done by the Chevron fire: hundreds of local residents have complained of health issues. With any luck, they are minor respiratory problems that will quickly pass. The refinery will operate at a limited capacity (it is already running again), which will raise the price of fuel in California. The Richmond Chevron refinery processes a staggering amount of the west coast fuel supply, and so gas prices are expected to rise to $4.

We are lucky enough to live in an area of the world that is constantly pursuing alternative forms of transportation. A new bicycle sharing program is coming to San Francisco soon, and the BART is looking to expand bicycle commuting options (I’ll be writing more about these issues in coming posts). Unfortunately, not everyone is in a position where they are able to switch their form of transportation. And obviously oil companies have a lot invested in keeping us inside of cars and trucks.

This is a good time to reflect on your transportation and energy consumption. The BP oil spill and Chevron refinery explosion are individual incidents that could have been avoided, but accidents will always happen. They are a natural byproduct of a fossil fuel-based economy. The only way to totally avoid them is to switch to clean energy.
Unfortunately, here at Fast Haul we are not in a position to abandon all of our older junk hauling trucks at once, but we’ve made sure for the past few years that every new truck we acquire runs on Biodiesel. My dream is to one day get every Fast Haul truck to be as environment-friendly as possible!

Another good image here.