Protecting the Environment
California’s 14th Congressional District faces immense losses and exorbitant costs if we don’t take immediate action to address the climate crisis. Sea level rise alone is projected to cost San Mateo over $39 billion over the next 50 to 100 years, and the Bay Area is not alone. As temperatures rise, the world will suffer from more extreme weather, rising sea levels, and an increase of airborne illnesses. Unless we take bold action, climate change will continue to cost countless lives and billions of dollars, produce a devastating loss of wildlife and species, generate climate-related migration, and destroy economies.
Given the dire threat of climate change, Congresswoman Speier believes that the United States must take bold action to become carbon neutral within the next ten years. In the 116th Congress, she was proud to vote for H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act, to block funding from being used to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and require the Trump Administration to develop a national strategy for meeting the Paris Agreement’s goals. She also supports the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which would impose a fee on carbon and create a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund to divide the proceeds among U.S. citizens and lawful residents.
In the FY2020 Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA), Congresswoman Speier secured broad study authorization through the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for studies pertaining to the coastlines of San Mateo, San Francisco, and Marin counties. USACE oversees and funds a significant portion of water-related infrastructure projects. For these projects to move forward, USACE must conduct a study to determine whether the project meets the appropriate parameters. To launch a study, Congress must first provide authorization, which sometimes can take years to obtain. The broad study authorization obtained in WRDA will allow potential projects to move faster within the USACE pipeline and help Rep. Speier’s district obtain more federal funding for water infrastructure projects.
Congresswoman Speier believes that history will remember us by how we respond to climate change and will continue to push for a clean energy economy. In recognition of the need to stimulate innovation in clean energy technology, she co-leads the Clean Energy Production Parity Act, which would bring investment tax incentives for linear generators with the potential to convert fuels into electricity with low emissions in line with incentives for fuel cells. To supercharge the adoption and production of electric vehicles here in the United States, Congresswoman Speier also introduced the Affordable American-Made Automobiles Act, which would provide incentives for drivers to purchase electric vehicles and for domestic battery cell production—the future of clean transportation. You can read more about the Affordable American-Made Automobiles Act via the fact sheet and endorsement list below.
San Francisco Bay
As the largest estuary on the West Coast, the San Francisco Bay is the lifeblood of this region. It’s also home to more than 100 endangered and threatened species and provides water to 20 million Californians. Unfortunately, the Bay faces irreversible damage by 2030 if we fail to act now. In fact, a 2018 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report identified a lack of federal funding as one of the primary risks to long-term restoration efforts. The reality is that San Francisco has been shortchanged for years when it comes to federal funds. Between 2008 and 2016, EPA geographic programs invested only $45 million into the San Francisco Bay. Conversely, Puget Sound received over $260 million and Chesapeake Bay $490 billion – that’s ten times as much.
To help protect this ecological crown jewel, Congresswoman Speier has reintroduced the San Francisco Bay Restoration Act, which would establish a San Francisco Bay Program Office within the EPA and authorize $50 million annually over a period of five years, for a total potential federal investment of $250 million. This funding will help support water quality improvement, wetland restoration, endangered species recovery, and adaptation to climate change. Last year, the House signaled its overwhelming support for the SF Bay Restoration Act when it voted to pass a version of it not once, but twice – the second time as part of the Moving Forward Act. It’s long overdue for the federal government to take serious action and ensure that the Bay receives the funding it needs and deserves.
Our District includes two of the historically most productive fisheries in the country: salmon and Dungeness crab. Salmon from the Central Valley Delta migrate out to the Pacific Ocean where they spend three years before returning to the delta. Dungeness crab are a delicacy especially around the holiday season. Commercial and recreational fishermen, related businesses and restaurants rely on these fisheries and form the character of coastal communities. Both fisheries have faced existential challenges. In 2008, salmon populations collapsed and the fishing seasons of through 2009 were entirely shut down. In 2015, commercial and recreational Dungeness crab and rock crab fisheries were forced to close due to high levels of domoic acid. The increased level of the neurotoxin was linked to an unprecedentedly large toxic algal bloom along the West Coast. The salmon fishery valued at $1.4 billion a year and the Dungeness crab fishery valued at $60 million a year are crucial to the coastal economy of central and northern California. Closed and restricted fishing seasons have inflicted lasting economic damage on the industry.
Following Governor Brown’s 2015 disaster declaration, Congresswoman Speier repeatedly urged the federal government to take action and provide much-needed federal aid. Additionally, Congresswoman Speier and Congressman Huffman introduced the Crab Emergency Disaster Assistance Act of 2016, which would have appropriated $138.15 million for disaster assistance to California Dungeness and rock crab fishermen and related businesses. Conditions remain very difficult and Congresswoman Speier will continue to support our fishing communities to ensure that they can stay in business, recoup their losses, and continue to supply consumers with fresh, delicious, and healthy seafood.