Baykeeper's E-Newsletter for October 2016

San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for October 2016
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Victory! Benicia rejects oil train expansion


In response to pressure from Baykeeper, our partner environmental groups, and dedicated local residents, Valero lost its bid to increase oil transport to the Bay Area.

Benicia's City Council voted unanimously to reject Valero Energy Corporation's proposal to expand its Benicia refinery rail yard. The expansion would have dramatically increased the number of tank cars filled with crude oil traveling near San Francisco Bay.

Valero proposed enlarging its rail yard to import up to 70,000 additional barrels of dirty and explosive crude oil by train daily. Long trains of tank cars would have traveled near the Suisun Bay wildlife habitat area, an important fish and bird refuge. In addition, an oil spill in Suisun Bay could quickly spread to the wider San Francisco Bay.

When Valero initially claimed that Benicia city leaders had no authority to deny the expansion, attorneys from Baykeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council refuted Valero's claim. The US Surface Transportation Board agreed with us, setting the stage for this victory.

Baykeeper will continue to oppose all plans for Bay Area oil refinery expansion, and all plans to increase the influx of crude oil by rail near San Francisco Bay.

Learn more about Benicia's vote against Valero's crude-by-rail expansion.

Photo by Robb Most

Source of oily sheens in the Bay remains unknown

In late September, oily sheens appeared near an oil tanker and the Phillips 66 refinery in northern San Francisco Bay, including one large enough to cause ferry operators to temporarily halt service. Tests were conducted, but the substance has not been identified and its source remains unclear.

The night before the oily sheens were discovered, hundreds of residents in nearby Vallejo called 911 and showed up at emergency rooms, reporting a strong, foul odor that interfered with breathing. Since then, officials have been unable to determine whether the sheens on the water were related to the smell in Vallejo.

Baykeeper has been watchdogging the agencies that responded to the sheens and monitoring the situation. Thankfully, there have been no reports of injured wildlife and no reports of oil reaching shorelines or wetlands. Baykeeper will keep an eye on incoming test results and stay on alert for any signs of longer-term damage caused by these oily sheens.

Learn more about the recent oily sheens in the Bay.

Phillips Refinery Map

Baykeeper secures 36th settlement to keep polluted runoff out of the BayVictory_Boat

In Baykeeper's latest victory to clean up toxic industrial runoff, Pinole Rodeo Auto Wreckers has agreed to prevent polluted rainwater from running off its site into San Francisco Bay.

The auto dismantler's site was releasing storm water with high levels of oil and grease into storm drains. Baykeeper was also concerned about the impact of the site's contaminated runoff polluting nearby Rodeo Creek. These pollutants can harm fish and wildlife and sicken recreational users.

Baykeeper worked with the facility owner to develop a comprehensive pollution control plan. The company will install better structural controls to remove pollutants before they reach storm drains and will continue to test its runoff for contaminants. Baykeeper will monitor the test results to ensure the facility's new controls are effectively reducing pollution.

The legally-binding agreement with Pinole Rodeo Auto Wreckers marks the 36th victory in Baykeeper's Bay-Safe Industry Campaign, which targets the widespread problem of heavily polluted, illegal storm water runoff that flows into San Francisco Bay from Bay Area industrial facilities.

Learn more about Baykeeper's pollution agreement with Pinole Rodeo Auto Wreckers.

Meet Peter Molnar—Board Chair, Skipper, Parade Founder & more


"I've always loved San Francisco Bay, but loving the Bay is not enough. All of us who love and use the Bay are also the best stewards of the Bay," says Peter Molnar, who was recently elected to chair Baykeeper's Board of Directors.

A Bay Area native, Peter first joined the Baykeeper team as volunteer skipper and intern twenty-one years ago, and he has been a dedicated volunteer and supporter ever since.

"I was drawn to Baykeeper because they're a small yet focused and impactful group that really moved the dial of improving the Bay's health," said Peter in a recent interview.

In addition to serving as a member of the Board of Directors since 2011, he is also a volunteer skipper on the Baykeeper boat, patrolling the Bay for pollution. On the anniversary of Baykeeper's 25th year of Bay protection, Peter was inspired to help create the annual Bay Parade, an aqueous celebration of a vibrant, thriving Bay. And as a vintner by trade, he and his partners created the Baykeeper Rosé for the Bay to benefit Baykeeper's mission.

Peter is an avid Bay sailor and frequent Bay swimmer, and a long-time member of the historic San Francisco Dolphin Club. He once piloted and swam in a 100-mile, 43-hour relay swim from Sacramento to San Francisco Bay to raise awareness of pollution impacts for open-water swimmers.

"I envision San Francisco Bay as the most vibrant, healthiest estuary in North America," says Peter. And as Baykeeper Board Chair, his leadership helps turn this vision into a reality. "Baykeeper achieves major wins for the Bay because we have a blueprint for how to get the job done. Our scientists investigate the threats to the Bay's health. And our advocates focus on real solutions to deal with those threats."

Peter likes to point out that it takes 1.5 million red rivets to hold up the Golden Gate Bridge. Each rivet is small, but together, they're what keeps the bridge standing strong. "Each one of us can be like a blue rivet—and do what needs to be done to ensure that San Francisco Bay stays strong and thrives," says Peter.

Vote Yes on Prop 67, the plastic bag ban, on Election Day

Prop67Plastic_BagBaykeeper recommends a ‘yes’ vote on California Proposition 67, the plastic bag ban. If Prop 67 passes, the 2014 statewide law phasing out single-use grocery bags will be upheld. Retail stores throughout California will be required to stop providing bags that all too often wash into San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, harming wildlife.

Out-of-state plastic bag companies are funding the highly deceptive campaign against Prop 67. They want to protect their profits at the expense of California's environment. A ‘yes’ vote on Prop 67 will keep the 2014 law in place and ensure that it is implemented throughout the state.

Vote to ban the bag to reduce this harmful source of plastic pollution in our waterways!

Learn more about why Baykeeper recommends a ‘yes’ vote on Proposition 67.

Two opportunities to volunteer with Baykeeper this fall

Fundraising Internship: Are you passionate about environmental protection and want to develop skills in fundraising and nonprofit operations? Apply today for Baykeeper's fall Fundraising Internship! Our Fundraising Intern will gain experience in online research, outreach, member database management, and event coordination. Approximately 5-10 hours a week, October to December 2016, with start and end dates flexible. Read the Fundraising Intern job description and learn how to apply for this position.

Office and outreach volunteers needed: Baykeeper is looking for volunteers to help with occasional envelope stuffing at our downtown Oakland offices and to represent Baykeeper at outreach events in the community. Email Maya Wolf to sign up for a volunteer shift.

A big thank you to our Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers!


Baykeeper's 2016 Coastal Cleanup Day was a great success. We cleared away over 130 pounds of trash that were cluttering the Bay shoreline at San Francisco's India Basin Shoreline Park—and we had a lot of fun, too!

Thank you to our Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers for helping clean up this neighborhood park and keep the Bay free of trash.

Mark your calendars for next year's Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 16, 2017.

See our Facebook album of 2016 Coastal Cleanup Day photos.

Photo by Robb Most

Photo at top by Roberto Soncin Gerometta

(Photo at top by Roberto Soncin Gerometta)

Victory! Valero oil by train expansion is rejected