Two months after hundreds of seabirds coated in mysterious goo turned up in the East Bay, lawmakers are trying to recover some of the cost.
On Monday, California senators Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Loni Hancock (D-Oakland) introduced legislation in an effort to close a loophole that freezes state funding for the crisis.
According to the Leno office, the jointly-authorized Senate Bill 718 will “authorize the Office of Spill Prevention and Response to borrow up to $500,000 from the state’s oil spill prevention fund for the rehabilitation and rescue of wildlife in spill events where the substance is non-petroleum based.”
While the California Department of Fish and Wildlife investigated the incident, no significant state resources were available to support non-governmental agencies in their cleanup, rescue and rehabilitation efforts, Leno's office said. The International Bird Rescue center, a publicly supported non-profit group, spent about $150,000 on animal care.
Under current law, money is only available when fuel or oil is spilled.
Lab analysis concluded the goo is not petroleum based, meaning wildlife rescue organizers can’t recoup the money spent collecting, cleaning, and caring for the injured birds.
A total of 170 birds were found in January along the Alameda, San Leandro and Hayward shorelines covered in the substance. The substance impaired their ability to regulate their own body temperature.
The bill will be heard in policy committees this spring.
Emily Bockian contributed to this report.