Baykeeper's Monthly Column

Baykeeper publishes a monthly column on San Francisco Bay cultural, environmental, and maritime issues.
(March 2017) Amid the drama of alternative facts and security leaks, the new administration has been unpredictable. And as its anti-environment agenda becomes clearer, Baykeeper’s attorneys and scientists are evaluating how best to protect San Francisco Bay from looming threats. One imminent threat is the administration’s short-circuiting of environmental protections in order to facilitate...
(February 2017) San Francisco Bay’s native fish are dying for water.  In the past, the Bay was an exceptionally rich environment for wildlife. San Francisco Bay is part of the Bay-Delta estuary, where fresh river water mixes with salty ocean tides. This creates multiple diverse ecosystems that sustain a variety of fish, birds, seals and other mammals, as well as other creatures large and small...
(January 2017) Cars stopping when San Francisco Bay water washes onto roads. Waves breaking on pedestrian sidewalks. Water flooding onto polluted oil refinery shorelines. It all happens during the year’s highest tides—and could happen daily as global climate change causes sea levels to rise. In the years to come, Bay Area shorelines will be at greater risk of the kind of flooding now only seen...
(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...

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