Energy & Environment
Congresswoman Speier has been a champion for protecting our environment and moving America toward a clean energy economy throughout her career in California and Washington. She continues to 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.
Saving San Francisco Bay
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, 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. 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 Speier has repeatedly sponsored legislation to prohibit oil drilling off the coast of California.
Marine Sanctuaries: 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: 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, 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 freshwater they need to survive. 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, 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, 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. She is closely monitoring the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan to make sure that government decisions affecting the fate of the Delta and its fisheries are transparent and accountable to the public, including the many fishermen who depend on a healthy Bay-Delta.
In December of 2010, 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, 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. Recently, 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.
Protecting Consumers from Energy Market Manipulation
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 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. 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.
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.
Fighting Global Warming
Congresswoman Speier understands that the science on global warming 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. Sea level rise in particular will be a major challenge for the Bay Area, with more than 110,000 people living in San Mateo County projected to face unprecedented flood events and billions of dollars in property damage unless actions are taken to help communities adapt.
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.
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. 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.