Baykeeper's E-newsletter for October 2019

Protecting the Bay from Trump's EPA, moderating the Environmental Equity Summit tomorrow, welcoming our new managing attorney & more

San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for October 2019
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In a victory for the Bay, our oil spill legislation becomes law


San Francisco Bay is a major transportation corridor for oil—and as refineries ramp up production of heavy crude, the risk of a disastrous oil spill is increasing.

In a big victory for protecting the Bay, Governor Newsom has signed Baykeeper's landmark legislation to reduce the threat of a heavy crude oil spill.

We created AB 936 because of the growing risk posed by spills of heavy crude oils like tar sands, asphalt, and Venezuelan crude.

These oils sink quickly in water, smothering plants and animals in a sticky toxic sludge. Only a rapid and effective response can prevent the Bay from being seriously damaged.

AB 936 will improve contingency planning, safety standards, and clean-up methods. The law also requires advance notice to regulators, response agencies, and first responders of when and where crude oils are being transported.

Read more about Baykeeper's new legislation targeting crude oil spills.

Pictured: an oil tanker crossing the Bay, by Autonomous Imagery.

Protecting the Bay from Trump's EPA

Salt Ponds

The Trump administration has reached a new low in its assault on clean water. Trump's EPA is claiming that South Bay salt ponds are land and don't need Clean Water Act protection.

This bizarre decision is dangerous for San Francisco Bay. It's a thinly veiled giveaway to Cargill, the multinational corporation that owns the salt ponds.

Cargill wants to pave over the area and build a lucrative development. They're trying to cash in before sea level rise puts the area partly underwater in the coming decades.

That's why Baykeeper is taking the Trump administration to federal court.

To protect the Bay from sea level rise, we need more wetlands, not fewer. Baykeeper is fighting to restore these salt ponds to marshes and wetlands that will protect the Bay and nearby communities from flooding caused by sea level rise.

Read more about Baykeeper's lawsuit to protect the Bay's salt ponds.

Photo by Doc Searls, Flickr/CC

All bark and no bite: Governor caves to Trump


Baykeeper is deeply disappointed in Governor Gavin Newsom for vetoing recent state legislation that would have shored up environmental protections in California.

SB1 would have adopted, as state law, the level of protection provided under federal environmental laws before Trump entered office and began rolling back the country's most important environmental safeguards.

"It's surprising to see Governor Newsom, who claims to be a Trump resister and environmental champion, cave to political pressure on this issue," said Sejal Choksi-Chugh, Baykeeper Executive Director. "His veto of SB1 undermines what Californians really want—a healthy and protected natural environment."

Newsom's veto puts San Francisco Bay and other California waters in danger. Trump's environmental rollbacks allow more pollution from dirty coal and industrial, less fresh water flows for endangered fish such as salmon and steelhead, and aggressive destruction of former South Bay salt marshes.

"Our work as the Bay's defender is even more important now," said Sejal. "We're going to keep fighting to strengthen our state and local laws in the face of federal environmental rollbacks."

Read more about Governor Newsom's harmful veto of SB1.

Photo by Joan Robins

Baykeeper's Sejal Choksi-Chugh honored as local Bay hero

Sejal Choksi-Chugh

Baykeeper Executive Director Sejal Choksi-Chugh was recently honored with Bay Nature Magazine's 2020 Local Hero Award for conservation action.

In announcing the award, Bay Nature Magazine said, "Sejal is a dynamic local leader who is making significant contributions to the health of San Francisco Bay. Under her leadership, Baykeeper has achieved significant victories to hold Bay polluters accountable, investigating and winning over a hundred lawsuits to stop corporate polluters from harming the Bay."

Bay Nature highlighted Sejal and Baykeeper's work "at the core of three of the biggest issues in San Francisco Bay conservation this year." We're targeting dirty coal exports, oil refinery expansions, and EPA's bid to exempt the Redwood City salt ponds from Clean Water Act protections.

Read more about Sejal's Local Hero award from Bay Nature Magazine.

Photo by Gail Odom

Meet Chris Len, Baykeeper's New Managing Attorney

Chris LenWhen a Baykeeper investigation uncovers a major Bay polluter, our new Managing Attorney, Chris Len, will determine the best legal strategy to hold the polluter accountable.

When a polluter refuses to clean up, Chris will be the one leading the tough negotiations to stop the contamination.

And when Baykeeper takes on a case to stop a significant threat like harmful shoreline development or toxic stormwater pollution, Chris will stand up for the Bay in court.

Chris brings to Baykeeper many years of experience as a Waterkeeper attorney, defending New York's Hudson and New Jersey's Hackensack Rivers.

In his new role at Baykeeper, Chris is especially eager to take on the battle for enough fresh water in San Francisco Bay to support healthy fish and a balanced ecosystem. "I'm excited to work with Baykeeper's strong team of legal and science experts that does its job of protecting the Bay so well," he says.

Chris traces his deep love of water and the natural world to his early childhood. He grew up in a tiny house by the woods, along a beach on the shores of Lake Michigan.

His love of water stayed with him all the way through law school, where he focused on water law. It was also at law school where he met his partner "in the most romantic of all law school courses, Administrative Law," jokes Chris.

When he's not litigating to protect San Francisco Bay, you'll find Chris rock climbing, hiking, camping, and skiing with his teenage son. Welcome to the Baykeeper team, Chris!

Photo by Sejal Choksi-Chugh

Join Baykeeper for the Environmental Equity Summit in Berkeley

Sejal Choksi-Chugh

Baykeeper is proud to co-sponsor the Environmental Equity Summit tomorrow, October 18. Executive Director Sejal Choksi-Chugh will moderate a panel discussion on "Adding Color to the Green Movement," featuring national environmental justice leader Julian Brave NoiseCat and youth climate activists Isra Hirsi and Hannah Estrada.

The Summit, hosted by Hip Hop for Change, is a platform to elevate and amplify the voice and power of people of color as leaders in the environmental justice movement. Participants will come together to share experiences, discuss steps to diversify the Green Movement, and address the specific needs of vulnerable communities.

The fourth annual Summit will also include live music performances by local Bay Area artists. Registration is free with RSVP. We hope to see you there!

Click here to learn more and register.

Baykeeper volunteers clean up hundreds of pounds of trash from shoreline

Bay Day

We've had a big month of cleaning up trash from Bay shorelines! Thank you to all our volunteers and partners for making these cleanups a success for the Bay.

In early October, we hosted our second annual fun run and trash cleanup in Berkeley with Sports Basement for Bay Day. Participants were cheered on by a friendly Bay shark at the finish line, followed by a shoreline cleanup and tasty pancake breakfast.

During Coastal Cleanup Day at San Francisco's India Basin, 70 intrepid volunteers joined Baykeeper to remove over 400 pounds of trash from the shore ... including funeral wreaths and TV monitors. We capped the event off with awards for the volunteers with the Smelliest Trash, Strangest Trash, and Most Trash Collected (below).

View photos from these cleanups on Baykeeper's Facebook page.

Bay Day

Photos by Robb Most and Roger Cunningham

Binocs  Baykeeper on patrol

Baykeeper Senior Scientist Jon Rosenfield was recently joined by our partners from the Rose Foundation for Communities & the Environment for a Bay patrol on the Baykeeper boat. They got to see firsthand how grants to Baykeeper can make a big impact. The patrol investigated a number of industrial facilities in Richmond, as well as the proposed site for the coal terminal we're fighting in Oakland. Plus, our crew watchdogged a dredger removing sediment along the patrol route to be sure they were following the laws (pictured).


Photo at top by Robert Most

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