City and Port Reviewing Final Environmental Impact Report This Week
San Francisco – The Environmental Council (EC) – a coalition of more than thirty Bay Area organizations – has determined that the America’s Cup Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) contains strong environmental protections for the Bay’s air, water, communities and habitats, but many members remain concerned because key elements are missing from the document, which will come before the San Francisco Planning Commission for approval December 15. The city has not yet posted the required Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program that details how environmental measures will be implemented, monitored and enforced. It was posted to the Port of San Francisco’s website late Tuesday afternoon, leaving limited time for final review.
“Together we’ve made huge strides toward an environmentally friendly America’s Cup,” said Teri Shore of SeaTurtles.org, “As soon as the city ensures final protections for the Bay’s air, water and environment, race preparations can begin.”
While air and water quality protections were significantly strengthened with requirements for cleaner fuels and engines, electrical hook-ups and an educational program for clean boating, other measures remain contingent on future funding. Programs to reduce waste and improve transit remain vague.
Groups plan to ask the Planning Commission to delay consideration of the document until the MMRP can be reviewed by the public and Commissioners. If the Planning Commission certifies the EIR on Thursday without the needed improvements, several Council organizations have indicated that they will appeal the document to the Board of Supervisors, which will consider final approval of the America’s Cup project in late January.
The EC’s key bottom-line requests for making the America’s Cup event as environmentally sound as possible include:
• Specifics on how Crissy Field’s restored dunes and Wildlife Protection Area will be protected from spectator crowds including fence placement, crowd control, restoration and allocation of resources (i. e., who will pay for it).
• Specific commitments by the America’s Cup Event Authority and City to prevent and quickly remove any litter that ends up in the Bay;
• Adequate protections for marine mammals and rafting birds from increased boat traffic;
• Protection of neighborhoods and areas adjacent to the waterfront, such as Russian Hill, North Beach, Telegraph Hill, and Coit Tower from the traffic, trash, and noise related to the America’s Cup events and races.
• Assurances that city-wide MUNI riders will not suffer service cuts in order to provide adequate transit to racing venues,
The Environmental Council supports the following improvements that were made to the EIR:
• A requirement for the use of non-diesel fuels and electric hook-ups for construction equipment along the waterfront;
• A requirement for use of cleaner engines and fuels or biodiesel in race management, support and spectator vessels;
• A requirement for use of electrical hook-ups for super yachts that dock along the San Francisco waterfront; and
• Improved stormwater and wastewater measures as required by the City’s Stormwater Ordinance.
“We’re encouraged that most of the water quality issues will be adequately addressed through the water quality certification process,” added Deb Self, Executive Director of San Francisco Baykeeper. “We can work out details on reducing impacts from boat yards and boater sewage in the supporting Water and Air Traffic Plan.”
“We feel confident that by collaborating with the city we can put the biggest environmental issues behind us and move on to support the America’s Cup races,” said Jennifer Clary of San Francisco Tomorrow.
The Environmental Council’s purpose is to ensure that America’s Cup is a benefit for San Francisco Bay and its surrounding neighborhoods and historic and natural resources, in both the short and long term