Baykeeper's E-Newsletter for July 2014

San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for July 2014
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San Francisco Bay

Big Win Expands Oil Spill Protections for State Waters

In a major victory for protecting California waterways from oil spills, a new state law will provide the state's rivers, lakes, and creeks with oil spill protections previously given only to the state's coastal waters. San Francisco Baykeeper helped orchestrate the passage of the law.

The expanded protections are especially critical now, because the danger of oil spills into the state's inland waters is rising as more oil is shipped into the state by rail. San Francisco Bay's entire watershed will now be better protected from oil spills and agencies will be ready to respond if an inland oil spill occurs.

The law also ensures continued funding for the California agency that rescues wildlife injured by an oil spill. The Oiled Wildlife Care Network had been threatened with closing due to lack of funds. Now, the network will stay open and expand its scope from rescuing only wildlife along the state's coast to rescuing wildlife harmed in case of an inland oil spill.

Learn more about Baykeeper's victory to protect California waters and the Bay from oil spills.

Baykeeper Files Court Appeal to Stop Excessive Sand Mining in the Bay

Baykeeper recently filed a court appeal to stop private companies from mining too much sand from San Francisco Bay. Excessive sand mining is causing Ocean Beach to wash away. It also threatens important Bay species like Dungeness crab that migrate along the floor of the Bay through mining areas.

Our appeal seeks to overturn an April state court ruling that gave sand mining companies a green light to increase the amount of sand they scoop up from the Bay floor. The sand on the floor of San Francisco Bay is a resource that belongs to the public, and the state is charged with ensuring it's used properly on our behalf.

Plus, excessive sand mining damages two of our region's natural treasures, the Bay and Ocean Beach, which also belong to the public. Baykeeper is standing up to private companies that are unsustainably using up sand in the Bay.

Read more about Baykeeper's court challenge to excessive Bay sand mining.

Oakland Opposes Oil and Coal Train Shipments

In June, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to oppose rail shipments of hazardous crude oil, coal, and petroleum coke (a toxic by-product of oil refining) through Oakland. Baykeeper advocated in support of the measure along with a coalition of partner environmental groups.

Fossil fuel industries are pushing hard to expand the export of oil and coal from Bay Area ports, and increase the amount of oil and coal brought here by train.

More oil coming here by rail will raise the risk of accidents that could spill oil into San Francisco Bay and its watershed. Coal is shipped in mile-long trains with open-top cars that would spread highly toxic coal dust in densely populated Bay Area neighborhoods.

Cities can't ban shipment of coal and oil by train outright because the federal government regulates railroads. Oakland's resolution urges the City Administrator to take action within the city's power, including actively opposing new permits for fossil-fuel transport projects.

Learn more about the Oakland resolution and Baykeeper's work to oppose an increase in shipment of oil and coal through the Bay Area.

25th Anniversary Flash from the Past—Stopping Refinery Pollution

In honor of Baykeeper's 25th anniversary, we present a flash from our past quarter-century of protecting San Francisco Bay from pollution.

In 1998, Baykeeper won a great victory for San Francisco Bay when we compelled two oil refineries to stop contaminating the Bay with selenium. Selenium is a trace element in crude oil. Excess selenium causes gross deformities and death in birds, and it poses similar dangers for people who eat selenium-contaminated seafood.

The refinery owners, oil giants Unocal and Exxon, not only had to bring their selenium pollution below levels set by the Clean Water Act, they also paid $4.8 million in penalties. The funds were used for projects that included restoring 45 square miles of Bay wetlands and habitat along creeks and rivers that flow into the Bay.

Read more about Baykeeper's successful campaign to compel oil refineries to stop their selenium contamination of the Bay.

First-Ever Bay Parade a Big Success for the Bay

More than 50 swimmers, sailors, stand-up paddle boarders, kayakers, and rowers, along with the San Francisco Fire Department fire boat, the Hornblower hybrid ferry, and the Baykeeper pollution patrol boat rode swift incoming currents under sunny skies, in the first-ever Bay Parade on June 14.

The parade's spectacular finale, with the fire boat spraying water hundreds of feet in the air above the swimmers and watercraft, was broadcast live on the AT&T Park Jumbotron at the start of the San Francisco Giants ball game. After the parade, we celebrated with a party on the South Beach Harbor lawn.

Baykeeper extends a huge thank you to the Bay Parade participants, to our dozens of tireless volunteers, to everyone who donated in support of a participant, and to all our Bay Parade sponsors and supporters. The Bay Parade was a terrific demonstration of support for a clean and healthy San Francisco Bay!

Learn more and see photos of the Bay Parade.

Enjoy San Francisco Bay's Shoreline Parks

With long summer days upon us, it's a perfect time to visit a San Francisco Bay shoreline park. Park activities include wildlife viewing, swimming, windsurfing, kiteboarding, kayaking, hiking, bicycling, picnicking, camping, fishing, and hanging out amid the beauty of the Bay.

Here's a well-known example: Crissy Field, on the northern waterfront of Presidio National Park in San Francisco, offers a walking/running path, outdoor fitness equipment, picnic sites, and a sandy beach, all with breathtaking Golden Gate Bridge views. Rare birds feed on native plants in restored wetlands. On windy afternoons, windsurfers and kite boarders zoom back and forth on the Bay's waves.

San Francisco Bay has dozens of shoreline parks, large and small. In fact, if you're anywhere near the Bay, you can be sure you're not far from a shoreline park. Enjoy!

Learn more about shoreline parks in San Francisco, Marin, East Bay and South Bay.

Celebrate Swimmable California Day on July 25!

On July 25, Baykeeper is joining with California Coastkeeper Alliance, our statewide network of California Waterkeeper organizations, to celebrate Swimmable California Day.

Swimmable California Day recognizes all Californians' right to waters that are safe and clean for swimming, surfing, paddling, fishing, wading, and frolicking.

You can help celebrate Swimmable California Day. Upload a photo of how you enjoy San Francisco Bay on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #SwimmableCA.

(Photo at top by Roberto Soncin Gerometta)