Thanks in part to more than 3,000 Save The Bay supporters who took action, the federal Clean Water Act and San Francisco Bay escaped a potentially disastrous setback this week.
At issue: Cargill’s reckless plan to pave over restorable wetlands to build thousands of bayfront homes in Redwood City.
Such wetlands have historically been protected by the Clean Water Act, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was just hours away from issuing a bizarre legal interpretation that the waters at this site are not, in fact, “waters of the United States”—and therefore not subject to protection. Such a ruling would have set a dangerous precedent for undermining the nation’s primary law for protecting U.S. waters, and moved Cargill one step closer to paving over our Bay.
Thankfully, Bay Area congressional leaders and more than 3,000 Save The Bay supporters raised their voices in protest, and the EPA stepped in to assert its authority on the issue.
As Paul Rogers reported for the San Jose Mercury News:
Legal experts said Thursday that EPA’s taking over is a significant setback for the project. Not only will the move delay any construction, but depending on how much of the site EPA says cannot be developed, it could be so limited that the project will not financially pencil out.
“For us, it’s a critical juncture for San Francisco Bay,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s regional administrator in San Francisco. “Our goal is continuing to implement the Clean Water Act in a way that protects the bay.”
So far, the EPA has done the right thing to protect the bay against Cargill’s rogue efforts to gut the Clean Water Act. Now, we must keep the pressure on for a final ruling that protects these restorable wetlands from development. Ultimately, the Redwood City salt ponds should become part of the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge, and restored for people and wildlife.
The future of these restorable wetlands is now in the EPA’s hands. Please TAKE ACTION and tell the EPA to preserve federal Clean Water Act protection for San Francisco Bay.