Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) yesterday reintroduced the San Francisco Bay Restoration Act. “San Francisco Bay is an economic engine for the entire world,” Speier said. “It is a beacon for the ingenuity that revolutionizes the way we live, from advancements in medicine and biotechnology to clean energy and environmental sustainability.”

The bill authorizes up to $20 million annually over 5 years to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fund efforts to restore and improve the environmental health of San Francisco Bay. It will take major strides to curb the harmful effects of pollution while conserving water resources, restoring wetland habitat, protecting fish and wildlife, and helping local communities keep the Bay clean.

The Bay Area generates more than $370 billion in goods and services annually and is home to more than three and a half million jobs. “All of us who live by the Bay are uniquely blessed with one of the most beautiful places to live and work in the country, and it is incumbent upon us to protect our home ecosystem from pollution, habitat loss and the growing threat of climate change,” Speier said. “Over 90 percent of the Bay’s historic wetlands are now gone—restoring this natural barrier must be the first line of defense.”

The important needs of the Bay have been carefully mapped out in a master conservation plan, but the plan has gone underfunded for more than 20 years. “While other watersheds across the country move forward, San Francisco Bay risks being left behind,” Speier said.

Major water bodies such as Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes have received large sums of federal funding in recent years, while other regions including Long Island Sound, Puget Sound and the Florida Everglades continue to seek increased federal funding. “We must ensure that San Francisco Bay receives its fair share – my bill will efficiently leverage federal dollars to create local jobs conserving one of our most beloved natural resources. Protecting San Francisco Bay is a win-win for our economy and our environment, and it is the right thing to do.”

The legislation is supported by the Bay Area Congressional delegation, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Reps. George Miller, Pete Stark, Lynn Woolsey, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Mike Thompson, Mike Honda, Jerry McNerney and John Garamendi. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.