Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Open Space Jewel Returns to Bayview-Hunters Point

“With the first tide coming into the recently restored 
marsh area, I felt the change that will improve life in 
the surrounding community.”
Axel Rieke, Northgate Environmental Engineer on the
Yosemite Slough Wetlands Restoration Project
Candlestick Point wetland reclaimed as key habitat
Peter Fimrite, SF Chronicle, November 23, 2011

Elizabeth Goldstein, the executive director of the California State Parks Foundation, stood in the mud at Yosemite Slough on Tuesday and welcomed the reclamation of the 7-acre site as a wetland.

After years of planning and months of cleanup and construction, two new tidal bays and a sandy shell-covered island designed exclusively for birds are the featured attractions in this $9 million phase of restoration of Yosemite Slough at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area. The 10-year-old project by the parks foundation and California State Parks will bring bayside recreation to Bayview-Hunters Point.

The new 7-acre marsh area is part of the Yosemite Slough Restoration plan, which will return 34 acres of shoreline to its natural state, creating the largest contiguous wetland area in San Francisco.  Native grasses will also be planted to stabilize the muddy shoreline, and 40,000 shrubs and plants will be added for erosion control. As many as 40 children involved in the local Literacy for Environmental Justice program are raising the shrubbery and are expected to help with the planting.

An additional $10 million will be spent restoring 13 more acres, including 5 acres of wetland on the opposite side of Yosemite Slough, and up to $4 million more will be spent adding an interpretive center, parking, a trail around the site, picnic tables, restrooms and lawns by 2015, when the project is expected to be completed. The parks foundation plans to raise money for the rest of the project given that the park system is broke and Candlestick Point is on the state's closure list.

"This was a very important project for the community - not only for the recreation but because it is an environmental justice project" that involved the removal of contaminated soil and hazardous construction debris, Goldstein said.

Read the complete story on SFGate.

Candlestick Point Volunteer Work Day, November 30th

Partnering with California State Parks, the California State Parks Foundation will hold an upcoming work day at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in San Francisco. The work day will focus on improvements in the Windharp picnic area. The day is planned for Wednesday, November 30, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

If you are interested in making a difference at Candlestick Point SRA, please register for this work day at and click on the Candlestick Point link.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Judge Orders Columbus Steel to pay for Violating Clean Air Act

Columbus Steel Castings, Inc., of Columbus, Ohio was sentenced to pay $825,000 in fines and install additional devices to prevent air pollution. Columbus Steel pled guilty on July 28, 2011 to six counts of violating the Clean Air Act. The violations include failing to operate air pollution controls, failing to report violations, failing to perform required monitoring, and failing to conduct stack testing to demonstrate compliance with the Clean Air Act.

In announcing the sentence, Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance, made clear that "EPA is committed to protecting communities from illegal air pollution that threatens people's health. Today's sentence will benefit the local community and shows that companies that fail to operate the necessary air pollution controls will be held accountable."

The company admitted that between 2004 and 2007 it failed to operate air pollution controls for four different sources at the plant for varying periods of time. The company also failed to report malfunctions of air pollution control equipment. Daily visual emission checks, designed to determine if the plant was emitting excess dust or smoke, were not conducted on weekends while the facility was operating. Stack tests, which are necessary to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act, were not conducted as required by the company's air permit. The Company also failed to submit accurate annual compliance certifications.

This is not the first time that Columbus Steel has been fined for exceeding air pollution standards. In 2009, EPA successfully took legal action against the foundry, which makes parts for rail cars, for violations of the Act, which included excessive smoke and dust.

For more information, click here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Green Tenant Toolkit Launched

The San Francisco Department of Environment (SFE) and the Business Council on Climate Change (BC3) has just released the Green Tenant Toolkit, an online resource to enhance the energy efficiency and sustainability of commercial buildings by empowering collaboration between owners, property managers, tenants, and occupants. While the kit was created to coincide with the San Francisco Existing Commercial Building Energy Efficiency Ordinance, it can be tailored for use in any building.

The Green Tenant Toolkit includes best practices for tenants and building management to engage in win-win environmental initiatives, a guide to integrating green lease language into negotiations, and a scorecard to summarize key sustainability metrics for any property – whether or not it has a green certification. “Split incentives” are a key problem, where the person who pays for an energy retrofit might not be the one that benefits. The toolkit is designed to help owners and tenants mutually benefit. Eliminating barriers to sustainability throughout the life of a commercial lease helps to minimize operating costs, save water, reduce carbon emissions, and increase energy efficiency.

The toolkit was produced by a BC3 working group of twenty-six professionals from leading commercial real estate companies, design and architecture firms, law firms, model tenants, and building trade organizations. The group was facilitated by Northgate Environmental Management’s Sustainable Practice Leader, Jennifer Berg.

The Green Tenant Toolkit is available online at As it is intended to be a living, evolving tool, user feedback is encouraged and appreciated.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sea Level Rise Could Drown Vital Marshes

Peter Fimrite, SF Chronicle, November 17, 2011

The critical tidal marshes of San Francisco Bay - habitat for tens of thousands of birds and other animals - will virtually disappear within a century if the sea rises as high as some scientists predict it will as a result of global warming.

The study, lead by PRBO Conservation Science and published Wednesday in the online science journal PLoS One, is the first comprehensive look at the impact of climate change on bay wetlands. The researchers started with a 1.6-foot sea level rise this century, a level that scientists consider very optimistic, and then moved up in increments to 5.4 feet.

A 93 percent reduction in tidal marshland would occur over the next 50 to 100 years only if the worst projections come true and assuming the bay does not suddenly become awash in new sediment, according to the report.

Read the SF Chronicle here and the full study here.

Health Costs of Climate Change-Related Disasters in the US

Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, November 10, 2011

A study published in the November 2011 edition of Health Affairs is the first-of-its-kind to develop a uniform method of quantifying the associated health costs for extreme weather and disease events that are expected to be exacerbated by climate change.

The analysis spotlights six US case studies occurring between 2002 and 2009 that resulted in health costs exceeding $14 billion dollars:
  • Florida hurricanes in 2004
  • North Dakota floods in 2009
  • California heat wave in 2006 and wild fires in 2003
  • Nationwide ozone air pollution from 2000-2002
  • West Nile virus outbreaks in Louisiana in 2002 (which were tied to warmer weather and changes in precipitation patterns)
Extreme climate-change related events are projected to increase in severity and frequency. Only 13 US states currently include public health measures in their climate-change adaptation plans.

Read more here.

Johnson & Johnson to Remove Contaminants from Baby Products

Johnson & Johnson has delivered a letter to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics laying out commitments and timelines for its plan to reformulate all of its baby products worldwide to remove formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, and phthalates.

The commitment to remove these chemicals of concern does not apply to Johnson & Johnson's adult products.

Read the press release here.