Baykeeper's E-newsletter for February 2019


San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for February 2019
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Dirty dinosaurs lurking around the Bay

Oil Refinery

Our fossil-fuel dependent culture has relied on oil refineries for too long. For life on our planet to thrive, these dinosaurs will have to go extinct.

There are five active oil refineries along San Francisco Bay. Oil refineries endanger the Bay and local communities in many ways.

  • Tanker ships, pipelines, and railcars all deliver crude oil to the Bay's refineries. They run a high risk of leaks, spills, explosions, and other accidents.
  • Refineries dump their wastewater contaminated with mercury and other pollutants into the Bay.
  • Toxic air emissions from refineries fall into the Bay and nearby neighborhoods.
  • Oil refining creates the gasoline and other products that cause global climate change.

Despite these risks, the oil industry wants to expand Bay Area refineries. Baykeeper is working to stop industry expansion and instead facilitate a just transition to renewables.

Read more about Baykeeper's work to stop oil refinery expansions.

Photo by Robb Most, thanks to LightHawk Conservation Flying

Poor dredging practices harm Bay wetlands & kill fish


Bay dredging operations are using destructive methods that harm wetlands and kill endangered fish.

Dredgers with the Army Corps of Engineers use suction-dredging technology that vacuums up and kills delta and longfin smelt—two fish species on the brink of extinction.

Plus, once they've sucked up mud and sand from the Bay floor, Army Corps dredgers take the collected sediment, even if it's clean, and dump it in the ocean. That sediment could instead be reused to restore Bay wetlands.

Baykeeper's lawyers are fighting in court for better dredging of the Bay. "We're demanding that the Army Corps use non-suction dredging methods that are proven to be safer for fish and other wildlife, especially in sensitive habitat areas," Baykeeper Managing Attorney Erica Maharg says.

Plus, Baykeeper is working to get the Army Corps to reuse healthy dredged sediment for wetland restoration around the Bay.

Read more about Baykeeper's work to stop harmful dredging.

The battle to stop coal pollution in the Bay

Levin Terminal

In 2011, Baykeeper staff were conducting a patrol on the Bay and came across a highly toxic polluting activity. A large facility on the Richmond shoreline had put big piles of coal at the edge of the water, and wind was blowing black dust from the piles directly into the Bay.

Baykeeper investigated further, and then sued this polluter for violating the Clean Water Act. Our negotiated agreement required the Levin Terminal to install extensive water pollution controls to protect the Bay.

And this approach worked. Since our agreement, Levin has reduced its water pollution from the heavy metals found in coal and other toxic materials by 98%.

"We made sure Levin significantly improved their operations so that they don't pollute the Bay every time they load a ship," said Baykeeper Executive Director Sejal Choksi-Chugh. "That's a big win for stopping pollution in the Bay."

But the fight to defend the Bay from coal pollution is not over. Baykeeper is on the front lines to stop coal contamination from other sources in Oakland, Richmond, and Vallejo.

Read more about our work to stop toxic coal from harming the Bay and local communities.

Sewage spills in Sonoma hurt the Bay, creeks & wildlife

San Pablo Bay

Many sewage facilities in the Bay Area are aging and dilapidated—and the fallout becomes evident every rainy season.

In Sonoma County, heavy rains overwhelmed faulty sewage infrastructure last month. The resulting spills dumped 3 million gallons of sewage onto streets, into creeks, and into the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

"You should not have this much raw sewage in the aquatic environment," Baykeeper Executive Director Sejal Choksi-Chugh said in a KQED interview on the spills.

"When raw sewage that contains bacteria and viruses and pathogens comes in contact with wildlife, it can make the birds sick, it can make the fish sick, it can also make people sick."

Sonoma isn't alone in needing to upgrade its sewage infrastructure. At least 100,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled onto city streets and down storm drains in San Anselmo in early January.

Baykeeper has legally required sewer agencies serving 20 Bay Area cities to stop sewage spills that pollute creeks, rivers, and San Francisco Bay. And we'll continue to work on stopping sewage pollution in the Bay.

Photo of the San Pablo National Wildlife Refuge courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons

Baykeeper Dinner registration open now

Baykeeper Dinner

Join us to celebrate 30 years of defending San Francisco Bay! The annual Baykeeper dinner will take place at the Dolphin Swimming & Boating Club on Sunday, March 3.

Tickets are now on sale and will sell out quickly, so get yours today. We're also seeking volunteers for the event.

The dinner will feature a crab feast, Rosé for the Bay, and Baykeeper IPA. Plus we'll have an exciting silent auction with a chance to win United Airlines tickets, an Oru foldable kayak, San Francisco Giants box seats, wine and beer tastings, and more.

We're also excited to announce the winners of the 2019 Blue Rivet Awards—three exceptional champions of San Francisco Bay—who will be honored at the Baykeeper Dinner:
Dr. Michael Herz, who founded San Francisco Baykeeper in 1989 as the Bay's fiercest on-the-water defender; 10Fold Communications, for outstanding support of the Bay through the annual SharkTank event; and No Coal in Oakland for effectively organizing the community to oppose dirty coal exports that would harm the Bay.

Register now for the Baykeeper Dinner.

Photos by Robb Most & Drew Bird

Try our Anchor Brewing collaboration, the Baykeeper IPA

Anchor Baykeeper IPA

Have you tried our new beer collaboration with Anchor Brewing, the Baykeeper IPA? This refreshing San Francisco-style IPA commemorates Baykeeper's 30 years of defending the Bay.

The limited-edition Baykeeper IPA is now available in local restaurants, bars, and grocery stores around the Bay Area. You can use Anchor's beer finder to find it near you.

We're celebrating with happy hour and beer events throughout February and March. And at Pacific Catch sustainable seafood restaurants, they're donating $1 for every Baykeeper IPA sold in their restaurants in February.

Take a photo of yourself enjoying the only beer that protects the Bay and post it on social media to spread the word! You can tag @SFBaykeeper on Twitter or @SanFranciscoBaykeeper on Facebook and we'll share your posts!

Binocs  Baykeeper on patrol

Baykeeper regularly partners with LightHawk Conservation Flying to conduct aerial patrols. From aboard a small plane, we can monitor and document the Bay from above, complementing our patrols from the water with some extra perspective.

On aerial patrol in January and February, Baykeeper monitored several sites in the Bay and Delta, including industrial facilities and oil refineries that we regularly investigate for pollution.

Below is an overhead shot of the Phillips 66 oil refinery in Rodeo captured by Baykeeper volunteer photographer Robb Most. Baykeeper is opposing the refinery's new expansion plans.

Phillips 66

Photo at top by Robert Most

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The dirty dinosaurs lurking around the Bay