Baykeeper's E-newsletter June 2017

San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for June 2017
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San Francisco Bay

Trump nixes climate accord—we keep defending the bay

President Trump recently announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. By withdrawing, the U.S. is taking a serious step back from leadership on containing climate change and preserving a healthy planet for future generations.

Fortunately, there's a lot that can be done at state and local levels to protect the environment. Baykeeper will continue our effective local work to defend San Francisco Bay from climate change.

Climate change causes sea level rise, which is a major threat to San Francisco Bay and its shorelines. Rising sea levels will lead to flooding, and, once water levels reach pollution sources, increased contamination of the Bay's waters.

Baykeeper is defending the Bay by:

  • Making the Bay Area more climate-resilient by strengthening policies that encourage smart water use;
  • Advocating for restoration of Bay wetlands that buffer shorelines against sea level rise, and fighting to keep clean sand and sediment in the Bay; and
  • Stopping expansion of Bay Area oil refineries and coal export facilities that increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Learn more about Baykeeper's work to defend San Francisco Bay from climate change.

Photo by 'midwinter', Flickr/CC

Court rules Baykeeper can stand up in court against dirty coal

Coal cars

Baykeeper is allowed to stand up in court against a developer who wants to build a massive coal terminal on the Oakland shoreline, a US District Court judge recently ruled. Baykeeper and Sierra Club will now join the city of Oakland in defending Oakland's right to protect public health and safety from dirty coal.

The developer is attempting to overturn Oakland's ban prohibiting the handling and storage of coal within the city.

Last year, Baykeeper's advocacy helped pass the coal ban, along with hundreds of residents and our partners at the Sierra Club, Communities for a Better Environment, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network.

Once coal dust has entered the Bay, it can smother plants and animals that live on the Bay floor. It can also keep fish from finding food and have a toxic impact on wildlife by slowing their development and interfering with their reproduction.

"A coal terminal on the shoreline of San Francisco Bay will hurt water quality and aquatic life," says Erica Maharg, Baykeeper Managing Attorney. "We're fighting in court to help preserve the city of Oakland's right to protect the health of its citizens and the environment of San Francisco Bay."

Learn more about Baykeeper's support for Oakland's coal ban.

Photo by Robb Most

Working to rid the Bay of polluting abandoned boats

Abandoned boat

Baykeeper is advocating for more action to rid San Francisco Bay of abandoned boats. Whether sunken or floating, abandoned boats can pollute the Bay with fuel, sewage, antifreeze, trash, and other toxic materials. They can also create navigation hazards for other boats and people who use the Bay for recreation.

Sometimes these deteriorating boats are illegally and unsafely taken over to serve as homeless housing or junk storage units without systems for containing trash or sewage.

Removing abandoned boats and disposing of them in a way that doesn't harm the environment can cost millions of dollars. Funding for removal is often stretched too thin, and local governments are challenged by complex legal obstacles and inconsistent enforcement strategies.

Baykeeper is working alongside federal, state, and local government agencies in the US Coast Guard's Abandoned Vessel Work Group to help create a regional approach to removing abandoned boats.

We are identifying the areas of San Francisco Bay where these boats are most prevalent. We also are calling for authorities to determine which abandoned boats are at highest risk for creating pollution or navigation hazards in the Bay—and to remove those first.

And we are working with the agencies to create strategies to increase funding for abandoned boat removal. These could include state legislation to change fuel taxes, modify commercial boat registration fees, or increase funding in the state budget for boat removal.

Learn more about Baykeeper's advocacy to rid the Bay of abandoned boats.

Photo by Robb Most

Monitoring shark deaths in the Bay

leopard Shark

For three months, hundreds of leopard sharks have been washing up dead on the San Francisco Bay shoreline.

Adult leopard sharks are 3-5 feet long and don't attack people. They are an important species in the Bay ecosystem, and a food source for harbor seals, sea lions, and, occasionally, people.

Researchers believe a fungal pathogen may be causing the shark deaths. Leopard sharks live most of the year in deep Bay waters, but in spring and summer, they move into shallow waters to breed. Fungal pathogens bloom in shallow water, and heavy rain can spread the blooms. Changes in the saltiness of water can also weaken leopard sharks.

The past rainy season may have created conditions that spread the pathogen and made shallow areas of the Bay less salty, causing the sharks to become more vulnerable to infection.

If you see a shark stranded on the Bay shoreline, don't try to push it back in the water. Report your observation to the Baykeeper hotline at 1-800-KEEP-BAY or hotline@baykeeper.org with exact location and photos.

Baykeeper is continuing to monitor shark deaths, and we'll keep up our work to stop pollution in the Bay that harms sharks and other wildlife.

Photo by J. Maughn, Flickr/CC

Collaborating for clean water worldwide at the Waterkeeper Alliance conference

Waterkeeper Alliance Conference

Baykeeper advocates recently shared strategies and learned from activists working worldwide for clean water. Executive Director Sejal Choksi-Chugh and the Baykeeper legal team took part in the Waterkeeper Alliance Annual Conference last week.

The conference brought together water protectors from the more than 300 local Waterkeeper organizations across the U.S. and worldwide. Baykeeper is a founding member of the Waterkeeper Alliance.

Waterkeepers everywhere face similar issues with the water bodies they protect. Baykeeper staff shared our wealth of experience with Waterkeepers who defend their local bays, rivers, and lakes. And we came home inspired by new strategies other Waterkeepers have used to stop pollution and restore water quality.

Together, U.S. Waterkeepers honed our national strategy. As the Bay Area faces threats to San Francisco Bay from the current anti-environment federal administration, it is all-important to have a collaborative national strategy to defend clean water.

Photo, above of: Baykeeper Associate Attorney Nicole Sasaki, Oahu Waterkeeper Rhiannon Tereari'i Chandler-'Iao, Baykeeper Executive Director Sejal Choksi-Chugh, Baykeeper Managing Attorney Erica Maharg, and Baykeeper Staff Attorney Ben Eichenberg

Swim, paddle, boat, or just party at the annual Bay Parade

Bay Parade

We're gearing up for our annual celebration of San Francisco Bay, the Bay Parade, on July 9—less than one month away!

Swimmers, kayakers, SUPers, and boaters are invited to spend an unforgettable day on the water while supporting Baykeeper's work defending the Bay.

The festivities will feature the competitive 6.5-mile Golden Rivet Swim, a 2.5 mile paddle from the Bay Bridge to the ballpark, a giant "kayak-tivist" banner display in McCovey Cove, and a grand parade finale broadcast on the AT&T Park Jumbotron at the start of the San Francisco Giants game.

And, for those who prefer to celebrate the Bay from dry land, you can volunteer to help, or join the Bay Parade After Party with bottomless beers from Anchor Brewing. Get a ticket to the Bay Parade party with your donation of $50 to a Bay Parade participant fundraising page, or purchase tickets online.

Thanks to our 2017 premier Bay Parade sponsors, Levi Strauss & Co.; the San Francisco Giants; Anchor Brewing; Keker, Van Nest & Peters; and Toyota, national presenting sponsor of the Waterkeeper Alliance SPLASH Event Series.

For all the details on how to join the fun, visit baykeeper.org/bayparade. See you on the Bay on July 9!

Photo by Clay Schmitz

Thanks for your support, Sports Basementeers

Bay Parade swimmer

A big thank you to everyone who has signed up to support Baykeeper through your purchases at Sports Basement. Your Basementeer membership is providing a big boost to Baykeeper's work for a healthy San Francisco Bay!

Sports Basement's Basementeers program allows customers to sign up to receive a 10% discount on each item, plus a donation to Baykeeper. The Bay Area-based outdoor store has gear and clothing for running, biking, hiking, camping, winter sports, and more. The rental department includes bikes, tents, and wetsuits.

Need new gear for Baykeeper's upcoming Bay Parade? Get it at a discount and support Baykeeper at the same time by signing up to be a Basementeer.

Sign up in person at any Sports Basement store. Tell the cashier that you were sent by San Francisco Baykeeper, and they'll waive the $25 sign-up fee. Or sign up for free online. Look for us in Sports Basement's alphabetical list of charities as "San Francisco Baykeeper."

Photo by Susanne Friedrich

Photo at top by Roberto Soncin Gerometta