Trump administration withdraws plan to dredge San Francisco Bay for oil tankers

Monday November 30, 2020

Environmental group celebrates as fossil fuel industry’s expansion plans in Bay Area thwarted

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today quietly withdrew its proposal to dredge a deeper channel through 13 miles of the San Francisco Bay and the Carquinez Strait to accommodate more oil tankers, in a move that environmental activists are celebrating as the end of the fossil fuel industry’s expansion plans in the Bay Area.

The cancellation of the dredging proposal, called the San Francisco to Stockton Navigation Improvement Project, comes on the heels of an earlier November announcement by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District that it was halting the permitting process for a marine terminal expansion proposal at Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery.

“The withdrawal of the Army Corps’ dredging proposal, coupled with the halting of the Phillips 66 refinery’s expansion plans, is a pivot point for activists in the Bay Area. With today’s announcement, local communities have successfully fought back all of the various proposals for increased oil imports through San Francisco Bay. Local community resistance deserves credit for this win,” said Wilder Zeiser, Climate Campaigner at and member of the Protect the Bay coalition. 

Both the refinery expansion proposal and the dredging proposal had been criticized as moves by the Trump administration 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. 

Over the past year, thousands of community members with the Protect the Bay coalition spoke out against the dredging proposal. In April 2020, more than 9,700 people submitted comments during a public comment period. In November 2019, dozens of community members with Protect the Bay testified at a hearing to highlight the growing opposition to the dredging proposal and delivered a petition signed by more than 20,500 people who opposed the project. 


As the fossil fuel industry deals with the fallout from its canceled Bay Area expansion plans, local activists are already advocating for what’s next for their communities. 

“As California continues to move away from a fossil fuel-based economy, these canceled proposals are likely the last refinery expansion plans that East Bay communities will need to fight. Now, frontline activists can turn their attention to calling for an equitable and just transition away from fossil fuels and to a clean energy economy, one that supports refinery workers and frontline communities,” said Matt Krogh, U.S. Oil & Gas Program Director at

Earlier in November 2020, after Contra Costa County’s Board of Supervisors declared a climate emergency in the county, a diverse group of environmental and public health advocates sent a letter to the Board calling for a planned and equitable transition away from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy, in what many are calling a “just transition” that supports workers and communities.

In July 2020, more than 100 social change organizations and community groups from throughout California sent a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom to start gradually reducing the state's oil refinery production so the state can meet its climate goals and protect communities from further unnecessary pollution. 

The letter draws attention to the “Decommissioning California Refineries: Climate and Health Paths in an Oil State” report also released in July 2020 that outlines how California's leaders can forestall an escalating climate and jobs crisis for the state's communities and workers by scaling down oil refining for export over the next few years, starting now.


Media contact: Matt Krogh, U.S. Oil & Gas Program Director,, +1 360 820 2938