Protect the Bay coalition aims to stop Bay Area dredging by US Army Corps of Engineers

Protect the Bay coalition aims to stop Bay Area dredging by US Army Corps of Engineers

Monday August 19, 2019

Proposal criticized as move by President Trump to expand fossil fuel industry; groups launch petition asking elected leaders to oppose project

Traditional Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone Lands (SAN FRANCISCO, CA) — The recently launched Protect the Bay coalition is asking local community members to sign a petition aimed at stopping a US Army Corps of Engineers project to dredge San Francisco Bay, criticizing the proposal as a move by President Donald Trump and Big Oil to expand the fossil fuel industry in California — including increasing imports of Canadian tar sands crude oil and increasing exports of U.S. coal — and is calling on elected leaders to oppose the project.

The proposal, called the San Francisco to Stockton Navigation Improvement Project, would involve dredging a deeper channel through 13 miles of the San Francisco Bay and the Carquinez Strait. According to the draft environmental impact statement, the dredging project would enable the transport of greater amounts of crude oil imports and refined product exports to and from several oil refineries and other industries in the Bay Area.

“This dredging project is by no means an ‘improvement.’ It is merely the latest attack on California by the Trump administration, and is part and parcel of previous attempts to expand offshore oil drilling and open public lands to oil and gas leasing. But Californians don’t want anything to do with a fossil fuel industry proposal that threatens the future of our climate and the San Francisco Bay,” said Mary Zeiser, Climate Campaigner at Stand.earth.

The dredging proposal also coincides with plans by Bay Area refineries — including an expansion proposal at Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery — to process greater quantities of Canadian tar sands crude oil. Tar sands, also called diluted bitumen or dilbit, is an extremely toxic, non-floating crude oil that is extremely difficult to clean up in the event of a spill. The dredging proposal could also enable the Port of Stockton to export more U.S. coal to Asia.

“At a time when we should be steadily ramping down fossil fuel production, this dredging proposal encourages just the opposite. It gifts four Bay Area oil refineries with a nearly $15 million annual subsidy, pumps up the production of oil products, multiplies the risk of oil spills in our waters, threatens marine life, and increases greenhouse gas emissions and toxic pollution in local refinery communities,” said Andres Soto, Richmond Community Organizer, Communities for a Better Environment.

"The Army Corp of Engineers should be providing public benefits, not a private benefit for Phillips 66, which is the apparent beneficiary of the dredging proposal. We spend more supporting oil companies than education, so if Phillips 66 needs dredging, they should pay for it themselves. Phillips 66 already gets more than their fair share of our tax support,” said Jay Gunkelman of Air Watch Bay Area.

The petition calls on state and federal leaders to oppose the project, including Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, Rep. John Garamendi, Rep. Jerry McNerney, Rep. Mike Thompson, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris.

“Our elected leaders must raise their voices in opposition to this dredging project in San Francisco Bay. We are calling on our state and federal leaders to safeguard our bay and the health of our communities by preventing any more fossil fuel industry expansion at a time when Californians need to steer toward a renewable energy future,” said Shoshana Wechsler of Sunflower Alliance.  

Protect the Bay coalition members include Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Crockett-Rodeo United to Defend the Environment (CRUDE), Idle No More SF BayInterfaith Council of Contra Costa CountyRodeo Citizens AssociationStand.earth, and Sunflower Alliance. Supporting organizations include 350 Bay AreaAmazon WatchCenter for Biological DiversityFriends of the Earth USFresh Air VallejoGreenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, and San Francisco Baykeeper.

Read and sign the petition: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/dont-let-trump-and-his-oil-company-cronies-dredge-the-san-francisco-bay.

Learn more about the Protect the Bay coalition: https://www.protectthebay.org/.

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Media contact: Virginia Cleaveland, 510-858-9902, press@protectthebay.org