Baykeeper Update

Protecting the Bay from the Federal Anti-Environment Agenda

In just under a month, the new administration has made a number of decisions that threaten the environment, undo clean water protections, and put San Francisco Bay in harm’s way. San Francisco Baykeeper, along with our fellow Waterkeepers around the nation, are busier than ever working to protect our waterways.  

  • Scott Pruitt is a bad choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pruitt is a vocal critic of EPA’s mandate to protect the environment. As Oklahoma Attorney General, he shut down the state’s Environmental Protection Unit and instead created a Federalist Unit that repeatedly sued the EPA to undo basic environmental protections.
  • Cutting the EPA’s budget, staff, and scope will harm our nation’s waters. The administration has advocated for permanently weakening and defunding the EPA, as well as undermining its use of scientific research to guide policy decisions. And the Clean Water Act, one of the nation’s oldest and most protective environmental laws, is already in the crosshairs of anti-environment reformists in Congress.
  • Empowering and expanding the fossil fuel industry will accelerate global warming. The administration is promoting fossil fuel extraction at a time when our nation was transitioning to renewable energy sources. In its first days, the administration issued an Executive Order easing coal company restrictions on mountain-top dumping into streams and reactivated plans for the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, which pose a major pollution threat to both land and water.

These actions also have serious implications for San Francisco Bay. The undermining of the EPA would weaken the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act, both cornerstones of legal protections for the Bay. A weakened EPA could also mean that if a developer wants to fill in more Bay wetlands—to build a skyscraper or a condo complex—it will be much harder to stop.  Federal grants for Bay health and wetland restoration may disappear as support for climate change planning diminishes.  And more fossil fuel extraction means more oil refining and coal transport in the Bay Area, resulting in increased pollution in our communities.

Baykeeper is standing up for the Bay and the environment.

  • We are working with our national Waterkeeper Alliance, a network of hundreds of local waterkeepers across the nation, to advocate against—and mobilize the public to oppose—Congressional threats to national environmental protections. 
  • We are doubling our efforts to stop local expansion of oil and coal. Along with a coalition of groups, we succeeded in getting Oakland to ban coal exports from that city.  Now the developer who wanted to export coal has challenged the ban, so Baykeeper and our partners are defending it in court. We are also opposing a development project proposed for Vallejo that may include coal export. And we are working to strengthen state laws to prevent oil spills in the Bay. 
  • We are working to prepare the Bay for sea level rise. We are sponsoring new state legislation to require that clean dredged sediment be used for wetland restoration in the Bay, not dumped far out in the ocean where it goes to waste. And we are taking the sand mining industry back to court in order to keep sand in the Bay for replenishing marshes and wetlands.
  • We are helping to make California climate-ready and water-efficient. Baykeeper has increased our efforts on behalf of fresh water for the Bay under state and local protections. Our scientists and attorneys are working with partner groups to educate the public, support new policies that would increase fresh water flows to the Bay, and oppose the massive twin tunnels that would rob the Bay of fresh water.

You can help. The federal assault on the environment makes it even more important for us to be vigilant in protecting our home. Here are a few ways you can stand up for the environmental health of the Bay:

 

Photo by Robb Most