Bay Crossings Article

Clean Water Legislative Update

Deb Self
From the October 2011 edition of Bay Crossings

Three good bills to protect San Francisco Bay and California children made it out of the California Legislature this session and now await Governor Brown’s signature. AB1112, which Baykeeper sponsored to protect the Bay from future oil spills, needs a final push from you.

Two others, AB 376 (to ban shark finning) and AB 1319 (to ban bisphenol A from baby bottles) also need your support now. Also, as we reported last month, the Clean Water Act is under major attack in the Senate, and Senator Dianne Feinstein needs to hear from you. She is our best hope to defend clean water protections from stealth Appropriations riders. Read on.

AB 1112, authored by Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and sponsored by Baykeeper, would provide critical funding for oil spill prevention and response programs in California. The bill would raise by 1.5 cents the fee on a barrel of oil to fund the state’s existing oil spill staff and also requires stricter oversight of ships transferring fuel on the open water.

Oil companies now pay one nickel per barrel of oil, the price of which now averages just over $100 per barrel. This fee provides almost all the funding for the California Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR). In the 20-year history of the agency, these fees have been increased only once, from four to five cents in 2002, when the agency was last facing staffing cuts.

Baykeeper sponsored the bill after receiving grim financial reports as a member of the agency’s Technical Advisory Committee, and after witnessing firsthand the devastation of the BP Gulf oil disaster. The Bay Area has a very active maritime industry with millions of gallons of oil being transported in and out of San Francisco Bay, both by oil and chemical tankers supplying our East Bay refineries, and in the massive fuel tanks of container ships (like the Cosco Busan, which spilled 53,000 gallons of fuel oil after striking the Bay Bridge in 2007). It is critical that the OSPR retain the field staff and scientists to monitor ship traffic and ensure fuel transfers are safe, and that we have enough equipment and trained personnel on hand to respond quickly to an oil spill if it does happen.

A major oil spill in San Francisco Bay could have a devastating impact on sea lions, harbor seals, bottlenose dolphins, harbor porpoises, migrating birds and local endangered shorebirds, as well as the struggling herring and leopard shark populations. Please call the governor today and urge him to stand firm against pressure from the Western States Petroleum Association by signing AB 1112.

Urgent Actions

Must-Sign California Bills Call Governor Brown at:

(916) 445-2841

These three good environmental bills need your support now to ensure they are signed into law. The governor has until October 10 to sign legislation; after that, please check our website for an update.

Support: AB 1112 (Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael) is necessary to fund California’s existing oil spill prevention and response programs. After the BP Gulf Oil Disaster, this is no time to cut back on protecting our Bay and coastlines from oil spills! Message: Please sign.

Support: AB 376 (Paul Fong, D-Mountain View) would ban the sale of shark fins in California to help stem the killing of more than 70 million sharks each year for their fins. Sharks are an important part of the ocean and Bay ecosystem. Message: Please sign.

Support: AB 1319 (Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, D-El Segundo) would ban the use of bisphenol A in baby bottles. Bisphenol A is an hormone-mimicking chemical that has been linked to reproductive disorders in humans and in fish and other aquatic life. Message: Please sign.

Must-Defeat Clean Water Act Riders Call Senator Dianne Feinstein at:

(202) 224-3841

The Clean Water Act is under imminent threat in the U.S. Senate. A series of "riders" on major federal government funding bills would eviscerate federal protections for our waterways. Fortunately, one of the most powerful members of the Senate Appropriations Committee is San Francisco Democrat Dianne Feinstein. Message: Please vote NO on all appropriations riders.