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SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 10: Waves crash against rocks at Fort Point near the Golden Gate Bridge October 10, 2008 in San Francisco, California. The Golden Gate Bridge District board of directors voted today to continue with a plan to build a suicide prevention net on the world famous bridge with a price tag of $40 to $50 million dollars. An estimated 1,300 people are believed to have jumped to their death from the bridge since it was opened in 1937. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The bill, the San Francisco Bay Improvement Act of 2010, would give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about $100 million annually over a 10-year period to fund projects that would restore the health of the Bay, which has been harmed by pollution, invasive species, and the loss of wetland habitat.
Speier said Congress has spent money on problems with other estuaries, including the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes and hoped her fellow members of Congress would approve a bill for the Bay Area.
"I never predict whether a bill's gonna pass, but I don't introduce a bill without putting every effort to make sure it will end up on the President's desk," she said.
The bill was co-sponsored by the Bay Area's congressional delegation: Anna Eshoo, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Jerry McNerney, George Miller, Pete Stark, Mike Thompson, and Lynn Woolsey.
Speier made Friday's announcement near a storm drain into the Bay from Haskins Way in South San Francisco. She said the drain does not have a filter on it, so "there's a lot of dirt, sludge and toxic substances that are probably getting into the Bay."
She said a project like installing a filter is one of the simple ways to improve the environmental health of the Bay.
The EPA has already included a plan for the Bay that includes hundreds of projects that would be eligible for funding if the bill were to pass, according to Speier. There are about 36,000 acres of publicly owned land that is in need of restoration, she said.
She said the reasons to restore the Bay include preserving the $8 billion tourism industry in the surrounding cities, and that "this area is ground zero for the sea level rise thru climate change."
She said projects such as the building of levees near San Francisco International Airport are vital, because "if we don't take some steps, the airport ... would be flooded."
Speier was joined at by representatives from the EPA, as well as the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, Save the Bay, The Bay Institute, and other conservation groups.
"The Bay region is fortunate to have in place strong science-based plans, professionals and dedicated volunteers to advance the goal of a healthier Bay, but more resources to implement that goal will be crucial in the decade ahead," Save the Bay executive director David Lewis said in a statement.
"We strongly endorse the San Francisco Bay Improvement Act and commend Representative Speier for her environmental stewardship," Lewis said.