America’s Cup Races – Clear Skies or Clouds Ahead?

The final environmental review of the America’s Cup sailing races and associated pier projects including a new cruise terminal will be made public on Thursday, December 1.

Seaturtles.org along with many other local environmental groups have been calling for specific measures to protect the Bay’s air, water and habitat from the pollution that will be generated by cruise ships, construction and spectator boats.

The San Francisco Chronicle and the Examiner highlighted our concerns in articles this week. Watch for actions leading up to public hearings in San Francisco on December 15.

Cruise ships may hurt S.F. air quality during Cup
Stephanie Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Cruise ships won’t race against the current during the America’s Cup. But they’ll sail into San Francisco at the same time as the event – and that worries environmentalists.
As many as 80 ships dock along the Embarcadero each year, allowing passengers to hop out, sightsee and hop back on. Running the engines in the meantime traditionally means hours of burning through diesel fuel.
To combat air pollution, a machine at Pier 27 has been feeding electricity from the city to those vessels since October 2010. Costing $5.2 million in city, regional and federal funds, the power supply was the first of its kind in California and the fourth in the world.
Air quality will suffer
But the device could soon shut down to make way for port activities, including the America’s Cup in summer and fall 2013. As plans for the high-profile maritime event finalize this month, environmentalists fear air quality will suffer.
“All that pollution the public paid for to be removed is going to be spewing out of the smokestacks of the cruise ships,” said Teri Shore, program director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network, which has been fighting to keep the power supply alive.
Two complementary construction projects will begin next year at Pier 27: the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal – an 88,000-square-foot, two-floor facility that will accommodate arriving and departing cruise ships – and the Northeast Wharf Plaza, a 2.5-acre public space.
For the America’s Cup finals the next year, a walkable area known as the Village will spring up from Piers 27 to 29. Pier 27 will be the primary spot to watch the races begin and end. Cruise ships would dock at Pier 35.
Tons of air pollutants
All this activity will knock the ships’ power supply temporarily out of commission, according to the draft environmental analysis released in July.
Without the device, cruise ships will generate an estimated 22 tons of air pollutants annually, the report states.
Some environmentalists say that number is too low. An analysis of the power supply, before it was installed, estimated it would cut 32 tons of pollutants annually.
These emissions “will adversely impact local and regional air quality,” wrote Jean Roggenkamp, deputy air pollution control officer of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, in a recent letter.
State regulations governing this type of pollution won’t be in play for two years. In January 2014, a law will require at least half of all ships to use shoreside power when docked at California ports. By 2020, 80 percent must do so.
The Turtle Island Restoration Network, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and other public health and environmental groups have suggested planners change construction plans to accommodate the power supply or move the device to another pier.
Not only cruise ships
Brad Benson, a special projects manager for the port, said these concerns will be addressed in the final version of the report, scheduled for Dec. 1 release.
He noted cruise ships are a fraction of the vessels that will be out on the water during the America’s Cup: competing, carrying spectators, regulating the races, defining the courses. “We’re looking at the air quality impacts of the entire event,” he said.
But unless the problem is resolved, the cruise ships will be a burden, not a privilege, Turtle Island’s Shore said.
“The city and the America’s Cup have a responsibility, like with any other project, to protect the bay, people and environment from air and water pollution,” she said.
E-mail Stephanie Lee at slee@sfchronicle.com.
This article appeared on page C – 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/11/26/BAV41M2701.DTL#ixzz1f1c3ZbYD

America’s Cup fate rests with green report
By: Sarah Gantz | 11/25/11 4:00 AM
Examiner Staff Writer

With less than two years to go before tens of thousands of visitors flood The City’s waterfront for a glimpse at the America’s Cup yacht race, organizers have a lot to get done in just a short time. The next month will be pivotal.
The event’s final environmental impact report will be published on Thursday and go to the Planning Commission on Dec. 15. Organizers will be waiting nervously to see if opponents file a lawsuit over the report, which could delay the event’s development projects, said spokeswoman Jane E. Sullivan of The City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
Dozens of permit applications and special requests needed for the event and its related development projects can’t move forward until the Planning Commission certifies that environmental review. The Board of Supervisors and related city agencies also must weigh in, Sullivan said.
“Nothing can happen without a certified EIR,” Sullivan said. “That is it for right now. The EIR has to be certified for this to continue.”
Assuming the commission certifies that report, community members may appeal any such decision to the Board of Supervisors. If that body denies the appeal, opponents can take the issue to state court, which could take a while to resolve.
Lawsuits over environmental review findings can take months or even years to resolve, according to Joy Navarrete, the city planner assigned to the America’s Cup EIR.
Judges typically decide on a case-by-case basis which parts of a project — if any — can proceed while the court investigates complaints against its environmental review, Navarrete said.
Teri Shore, program director for SeaTurtles.org, could not say yet whether her organization, which has concerns about the event’s environmental impact, would seek legal action if they don’t like what they read. “It depends on what’s in that EIR,” Shore said. “It’s kind of a, ‘How bad is it?’”
Shore’s environmental group, previously known as Turtle Island Restoration Network, is concerned about pollution from cruise ships that will run on fuel while docked, rather than hooking up to The City’s energy supply.
“We’ll just have to wait and see — do we throw in the towel or press through other options?” Shore said. Even if the report does not meet the group’s expectations, Shore said she would prefer to resolve the problem without costly legal action.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2011/11/america-s-cup-fate-rests-green-report#ixzz1f1ZnRmjS

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