Baykeeper's Monthly Column

Baykeeper publishes a monthly column on San Francisco Bay cultural, environmental, and maritime issues.
(December 2016) Recent elections brought good news for San Francisco Bay—and some uncertainties. The good news: In November, California voters passed the statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags, Proposition 67. The measure succeeded despite the plastic bag industry spending more than $6 million against it. And it won in spite of the industry’s efforts to include Proposition 65 on the...
(November 2016) More long freight trains of tank cars full of crude oil, chugging along San Francisco Bay’s shore and rumbling through our communities. That’s the oil industry’s vision for the Bay Area.   Baykeeper, along with partner environmental groups and concerned Bay Area residents, has a different vision. And together, we have derailed two major pieces of the oil industry’s strategy for...
(October 2016) After more than 20 years as an environmental advocate, I shouldn’t be surprised by industry shenanigans, but I still am. Case in point: On November 8, California voters will have the chance to vote on a ballot measure, Proposition 67, to ban single-use plastic bags. Most people know that plastic bags are bad for our environment. We see plastic bags littering our creek beds,...
(September 2016) A plastic takeout cup dropped on a Napa street, a food wrapper tossed outside the Giants’ ballpark, cigarette butts stubbed out in an Oakland park—it’s all likely to end up in San Francisco Bay. Trash in the water mars the Bay’s beauty. It poses a hazard for swimmers and surfers. And for wildlife, trash is a matter of life and death. Fish and birds can mistake plastic and other...
(August 2016) After the owner of Point Buckler Island filled its wetlands and tidal marshes without proper permits, authorities ordered him to restore the island’s important wetland ecosystem. They also levied a fine of $4.6 million for damage to the 39-acre island, which is located in Suisun Bay, a major inlet of San Francisco Bay at the gateway to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The island’s...
(July 2016) All around San Francisco Bay during Fourth of July celebrations, brightly colored fireworks light up the night sky. It’s a fun tradition. But how much does the rockets’ red glare pollute the Bay? Fireworks are often set off over water, because setting them off over land creates a risk of fire. However, fireworks can cause so much pollution that some communities ban them over lakes...
(June 2016) From the deck of Baykeeper’s 24-foot patrol boat on San Francisco Bay, we saw large black piles of petroleum coke looming along the Richmond shoreline. One pile was much higher than a low wall that barely held it back from the Bay. Coke was accumulating near the top of the wall, ready to fall into the water. Above the piles, a giant conveyor belt transferred the material into a huge...
(May 2016) Calling all swimmers, kayakers, stand-up paddleboarders and boaters! You are invited to be part of Baykeeper’s Third Annual Bay Parade on Sunday, May 22. Join hundreds of other participants for a fun and active day on San Francisco Bay. Swimmers will swim 6.5 miles, solo or in relay teams, along the San Francisco waterfront. Kayakers and paddleboarders will join in for a one-mile...
(April 2016) Should local salmon be pushed to extinction? Should some Bay Area residents pay much higher water bills? Should San Francisco Bay be contaminated with toxic pollutants? My guess is that Bay Area readers would answer these questions with a resounding “no,” but these scenarios will become reality if the two 30-mile water tunnels proposed by Governor Jerry Brown are built. The tunnels...
(March 2016) Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. It looks like developers are trying to fool all of us who love San Francisco Bay—twice. For the second time in less than a year, development threatens the Bay with contamination from coal. Developers are proposing to build a shipping terminal at the site shown at right on the shore of Mare Island Strait in Vallejo. They may be...

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