Giving the Bay a Billion Dollar Scrub - NBC Bay Area

Giving the Bay a Billion Dollar Scrub



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    Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough has announced the introduction of a bill to the U.S. Congress that would spend $1 billion to restore and clean up the San Francisco Bay.

    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.