Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.) today introduced the San Francisco Bay Restoration Act, a bill to create a permanent program within the Environmental Protection Agency dedicated to restoring the San Francisco Bay ecosystem, the largest estuary on the West Coast.
The bill would authorize $50 million per year for five years to establish a San Francisco Bay Program, similar to other EPA programs at the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes and Puget Sound. It would also help leverage state and local funds, including those generated by Measure AA, a ballot measure approved by Bay area voters in 2016 that will raise $500 million over 20 years to fund bay enhancement and habitat restoration projects.
Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“The San Francisco Bay estuary is a national treasure and vital to the nation’s environmental and economic health,” said Senator Feinstein. “Unfortunately, the health of the bay has been greatly diminished due to human activity, including the loss of 95 percent of its wetlands. Our bill provides much-needed federal support on par with the country’s other major lakes and bays. It invests in the recovery of the entire San Francisco Bay system, focusing on water quality improvement, wetland restoration, endangered species recovery and adaptation to climate change.”
“The San Francisco Bay is an icon of California, the largest estuary on the West Coast, and a vital part of the region’s economy,” said Senator Padilla. “Restoring and protecting Bay Area wetlands to improve water quality and flood protection has to be a long term priority as California faces the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. This bill provides meaningful federal support to invest in the region’s future.”
The San Francisco Bay Restoration Act would:
- Authorize $50 million per year for five years to establish a San Francisco Bay Program office within the EPA.
- Fund wetlands and habitat restoration projects to improve the water quality of the San Francisco Bay estuary.
- Require the San Francisco Bay Program to compile an annual list of funding priorities for projects or studies that advance the goal of conserving and managing the estuary.
- Prioritizes projects and studies for water quality improvement; wetland, riverine and estuary protection; nearshore and endangered species recovery; and adaptation to climate change.
- Provide funding to local agencies, governments, special districts and nonprofits through a grant program.