Author: Nicole

The E.P.A.’s Environmental Impact Statement for San Francisco Bay Desalinization

The E.P.A.’s Environmental Impact Statement for San Francisco Bay Desalinization

Monterey Bay desalination project is approved despite environmental injustice concerns by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. government is spending more tax dollars to save more water than ever before. By some estimates, the total cost of the program to date is $15 billion, with the cost of the massive desalinization project at the mouth of the California-Sonoma Bay estuary topping the bill. The project is also slated to create about 1,000 jobs.

The estimated cost to the taxpayers of this vast public investment has not yet been calculated. The project was approved for $4.3 billion in an 8,500-page final E.P.A. environmental impact statement released this week. The program has been criticized by environmental groups and the coastal community, who fear that the project could harm fragile ecosystems at the mouth of the San Francisco Bay.

In June 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a “final environmental statement” for the project, which was written by the same contractor that wrote the E.P.A.’s environmental impact statement.

In June 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a “final environmental statement” for the project. It was written by the same contractor that wrote the E.P.A.’s environmental impact statement. (Image by NOAA)

The E.P.A.’s review of the federal program for San Francisco Bay desalinization focused on protecting the estuary’s ecosystem. The environmental review, released this week, makes many of the same arguments made by environmentalists, but it adds one crucial wrinkle: There will be no impact on endangered species.

The E.P.A.’s environmental impact report for the project (PDF) states:

“The proposed project will not result in any adverse modification to any critical habitat for endangered or threatened species.”

The agency’s review notes that, while the project will take some “water from the San Francisco Bay estuary … and the South Bay,” the amount it will take is “less than the

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