A federal bill that would provide $125 million in federal funding over five years for San Francisco Bay restoration projects passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday and now heads to the U.S. Senate, according to the Office of Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who introduced the bill.
HR 1132 would enable the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to award $25 million in grants each year for five years to conservation and restoration projects on the Bay. The funds would match the $25 million expected to be raised annually through local Measure AA, a 20-year parcel tax approved by voters in June 2016 to fund Bay restoration projects.
Speier and the environmental group Save the Bay say accelerated action on Bay restoration is not just to improve the health of polluted water and habitat, but also to protect communities and infrastructure from rising sea levels. Tidal marsh restoration is “essential to protect Bay wildlife habitat and adjacent shoreline communities,” David Lewis, executive director for Save the Bay, stated in a letter to Rep. Speier in support of HR 1132.
“The recent Baylands Habitat Goals Update underscored that tidal marsh revegetation must be initiated wherever possible within the next decade to stay ahead of rising seas, and the recent California Legislative Analyst’s Office report further underscores the urgency of adaptation and resilience actions,” Lewis states in the letter.
HR 1132 would also address an inequity in federal funding coming to the San Francisco Bay compared with other natural estuaries, said Speier and Lewis.
“San Francisco Bay deserves similar support and commitment as the federal government currently provides to Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound and other locations, and HR 1132 begins to rectify that disparity,” Lewis said.
About 90 percent of the Bay’s wetlands have been destroyed by development in the last 200 years, according to Speier.
“We have made some progress in restoring this national treasure to its former glory, but so much more must be done,” Speier said.
HR 1132 is supported by the full Bay Area Congressional delegation including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Reps. Anna Eshoo, John Garamendi, Ro Khanna, Jared Huffman, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Jerry McNerney, Mark DeSaulnier, Eric Swalwell, and Mike Thompson.
To learn more about Bay restoration, including progress made over the last half-century, visit Save the Bay’s website here.
Photo credit: Rep. Jackie Speier’s Facebook page.