Energy & Environment
Congresswoman Speier is a champion for protecting our environment and moving America toward a clean energy economy. Throughout her career in California and Washington, she has lead efforts to fight global warming, preserve clean air and water, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, create millions of jobs in clean energy manufacturing and innovation, and put public health above the interests of big polluters every step of the way in Congress.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND SEA LEVEL RISE
Congresswoman Speier understands that the science on climate change is clearer and more urgent than ever. The impacts of global warming are being felt around the world in the here and now, with record-breaking temperatures and extreme weather approaching a fever pitch across the United States.
The Bay Area is still experiencing more subtle changes than the extreme heat waves, droughts, wildfires or storms in other parts of the country. However, the threats from global warming to the Bay Area are real, and are expected to include dramatic losses of native plant and animal species, exacerbated levels of smog and air pollution, and increases in flooding.
The Bay Area's greatest strength in this regard is its renowned environmental sustainability ethic, embodied in a wide array of forward-thinking businesses, nonprofit organizations and in government. Adapting to climate change in the Bay Area poses challenges that will test the strategic mettle of leaders in all of these groups, but Congresswoman Speier is dedicated to assisting communities, businesses, and people who are working to plan for the future today.
Sea Level Rise
Sea level rise will be a major challenge for the Bay Area, and San Mateo County is among the most vulnerable areas in California. With seas predicted to rise at least three feet over the coming years, more than 110,000 people living in San Mateo County will face unprecedented flood events and billions of dollars in property damage.
Congresswoman Speier is working to proactively protect public infrastructure and the environment during the very challenging times to come. In December 2013, in collaboration with Assemblyman Rich Gordon and Supervisor Dave Pine, she held the “Meeting the Challenges of Sea Level Rise in San Mateo County” conference. With over 450 people in attendance, this conference kicked off the important discussion about how to prepare for rising waters.
Congresswoman Speier opposes the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil sands crude from Canada and shale oil produced in North Dakota and Montana to a market hub in Nebraska for further delivery to Gulf Coast refineries. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline poses grave risks to the environment and public health, risks that would be felt first and foremost along its route. The existing Keystone pipeline has already produced more than a dozen oil spills since June of 2010, despite industry assurances that it would be safe. This is in part due to the fact that crude oil from tar sands is significantly more corrosive than conventional oil. Moreover, on a life-cycle basis, greenhouse-gas emissions from oil extracted from the tar sands are 15–20% higher than those from average crude oil. Building Keystone XL would generate global warming pollution every year it operates – equivalent to constructing four new coal plants or adding more than 5.6 million new cars to U.S. roads – which would significantly undermine U.S. efforts to combat climate change.
Saving San Francisco Bay
Congresswoman Speier is leading the Bay Area Congressional delegation in a major legislative effort to restore and preserve San Francisco Bay, the defining ecosystem for all Bay Area residents and a region of strategic importance to the entire country. San Francisco Bay is unparalleled in its beauty and biodiversity, and serves as the foundation for one of the world’s greatest economic hubs for innovation and entrepreneurship.
San Francisco Bay Restoration Act – Congresswoman Speier has re-introduced her legislation to give San Francisco Bay the same level of consistent federal recognition and funding it deserves in line with all other water bodies of national significance, such as Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes, the Everglades, and many other waterways around the country. As San Francisco Bay continues to face serious environmental challenges, including toxic pollution, urban and rural runoff, water contamination, and changes due to the related threats of global warming and sea level rise, Congresswoman Speier is working hard to provide much-needed federal support to help the Bay Area adapt and become more sustainable.
The San Francisco Bay Restoration Act would fund comprehensive restoration of thousands of acres of Bay wetlands and tidal marsh, which are home to more than a hundred threatened and endangered species of wildlife and provide a natural barrier against flooding and sea level rise impacts. In addition, the bill would fund cleanup of toxic pollutants such as mercury and PCBs, local infrastructure projects to control stormwater runoff and improve the safety of sewage disposal, and assist state and local plans to adapt to climate change impacts on Bay water quality.
Protecting California’s Coast
Just as the Peninsula is nothing without a beautiful and healthy Bay, our Pacific coastline and ocean environment must be protected now and for future generations. Congresswoman Speier understands the importance of a healthy coast and the economic prosperity it brings to California, including the tourism, recreation and fishing industries, which generate $23 billion a year in economic activity and support 390,000 jobs.
Oil Drilling: Our State heritage, billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of Californian jobs rely on a beautiful and unspoiled Pacific environment, which is why Congresswoman Speier has repeatedly sponsored legislation to prohibit oil drilling off the coast of California.
Marine Sanctuaries: Congresswoman Speier is a strong advocate for our National Marine Sanctuaries and has sponsored legislation to expand and protect the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank sanctuaries, which are among the planet’s most biologically productive ecosystems and remain key offshore havens for migratory birds and marine species.
Comprehensive Ocean Protection: Congresswoman Speier is committed to enhancing the scientific monitoring of our ocean and coastal resources and maintaining the key national security, commercial, navigation, weather and climate forecasting services we derive from them. She has supported strong funding for ocean and coastal programs in the federal budget, which protect Californians from storms, erosion and pollution, conserve ocean resources and wildlife, and benefit all those who use the ocean for their livelihoods, businesses and recreation.
Restoring Wild Pacific Salmon
As someone who personally enjoys wild-caught salmon and is proud to represent thousands of commercial and recreational fishermen and women based on the San Francisco Peninsula, Congresswoman Speier has taken up the mantle for salmon issues in the 113th Congress and is working diligently to help restore salmon populations and the thousands of California jobs they support.
Unfortunately, the health of California’s fisheries is threatened by increased water exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which leave fish without the fresh water they need to reproduce. From 2002 to 2009, salmon populations dropped 97%, from nearly 1.5 million to just 39,500 adult fish, the largest salmon collapse in U.S. history, due in large part to excessive water exports. At the federal level, Congresswoman Speier has supported full salmon disaster assistance following the record collapses in recent salmon fishing seasons.
Beyond providing immediate relief to those impacted by the collapse, Congresswoman Speier recognizes that California is in desperate need of more long-term, sustainable water policies founded upon the best available science and focused on conservation. In this historic drought year, she is closely monitoring government decisions affecting the fate of the Delta and its fisheries to make sure they are transparent and accountable to the public. She emphatically rejects the false “fish vs. people” dichotomy, which merely serves to undermine all the Californians, from family farmers to fishermen to California Indian Tribes that depend on a healthy Delta for their livelihoods.
In December of 2010, Congresswoman Speier hosted a groundbreaking summit of fishermen, local leaders, and state and federal decision makers in Half Moon Bay to discuss how to save California’s commercial and recreational salmon fishing industries. Joined by her colleague, Congressman Mike Thompson, Congresswoman Speier jump-started an effort to give the fishing community a seat at the table when it comes to negotiating the future of California’s water policy and its impacts on the environment, on fish and on people. In April 2011, Congresswoman Speier helped organize a summit in Antioch to unite both the fishing and farming communities in demanding common sense, science-based solutions to the challenges they all face.
Protection Consumers from Speculation
Congresswoman Speier has played a leadership role in cracking down on oil speculation. Despite an all-time-high in oil supplies, the price of oil began rising rapidly in 2006. In the run up to the financial collapse in 2008 and in a climate of lax regulation on Wall Street, investors bet heavily on oil futures contracts, creating an artificial market for oil, driving prices outside the normal range of supply and demand and causing the price of gasoline to skyrocket to more than $4 a gallon.
As part of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that Congresswoman Speier helped pass in 2010, Congress directed the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) – the government watchdog for oil speculation – to set new limits on speculative oil trading and work with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to protect consumers from manipulation in the energy market. Congresswoman Speier wrote a letter, signed by 54 of her colleagues, to the DOJ and the CFTC to demand action to stop excessive oil speculation. Click here to read Speier’s letter to the DOJ and the CFTC.
Congresswoman Speier also supports releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a step used effectively in previous presidential administrations to lower gas prices immediately and curtail upward pressure from speculation. Moreover, she is fighting to repeal billions of dollars in subsidies and tax loopholes to big oil companies and devote them to clean energy and deficit reduction goals.
Investing in Clean Energy Innovation
California’s 14th Congressional District is a hotbed of clean energy technology innovation and is home to scores of businesses that are changing the way we produce and consume energy. Clean tech companies in the District range from sustainable architects and green designers, to solar panel installers and energy efficiency experts lessening our dependence on the grid, to cutting-edge biofuel producers and advanced electric car manufacturers aiming to slash our dependence on oil. All of these businesses and others – including those committed to making environmentally friendly consumer products or producing locally-grown, organic food – support thousands of jobs in the Bay Area and help make our region known as a beacon for energy innovation and environmental sustainability.
Congresswoman Speier is committed to promoting clean tech innovation at the national level, including sponsoring legislation to incentivize solar, wind, geothermal, advanced biofuels and other renewable energy sources. She supports the extension of important tax provisions, such as the 179D tax break for energy efficient buildings, and the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) which support the development of clean, renewable energy sources across the United States.