The Federal, State, and Local Partnership
February 13, 2021
California leaders maintained that the federal government funding for the conservation and preservation of the San Francisco Bay will reduce the negative impact of climate change and provide significant economic returns on that investment.
“The cost of doing nothing in climate change is extraordinarily higher than the cost of taking action today, and every single dollar we put in today will save about $6,” Blumenfeld said. “The same is true with nearly any aspect of climate change, so looking at this, it’s a great investment in the future.”
Blumenfeld’s claims have been supported by numerous federal and independent studies, chiefly among them, one issued by the National Institute of Building Sciences, titled “Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report.”
Blumenfeld also stressed the openness of California Gov. Gavin Newson’s administration to working cohesively with the federal government in an attempt to solve the climate crisis plaguing California.
Blumenfeld said, “The Newson administration is incredibly proud to do anything to support [the bill] and Congress and to get this funding immediately to work to protect a place that 8 million of us call home.”
Speier noted the importance of the new office within the EPA, one of the many changes proposed by the bill in an effort to increase collaboration between the state, local, and federal governments.
“Having a dedicated office within the federal government is like having a guardian angel over the bay in terms of being able to measure the needs and to request the funding [needed],” Speier said.
Huffman also commented, stressing the need for a partnership between the federal and local governments.
“None of us have the funds to do this alone, but rather, we need to do it in a partnership. You’ve got to have the institution and a mechanism for that partnership to function under,” Huffman said. “The local partners are ready to go; they just need the structure and federal funding.”
Lewis emphasized the importance of passing the bill as he underscored residents’ dedication to preserving the San Francisco Bay.
“Most of our money has come from our own residents taxing ourselves through the regional Measure AA parcel tax […] but not from the federal government in a big way. This bill would leverage our local tax budgets and restore the San Francisco Bay with federal funds, not just for marsh restoration but for pollution reduction and other benefits,” Lewis said.
Speier added that the funds coming from Bay Area residents’ parcel taxes would not be sufficient, and Bay Area restoration required federal support.
“[To] underscore the amount of local monies that have been generated, the Measure AA parcel tax will generate $500 million in local funding for the San Francisco Bay, but that’s still only a third of the funding estimated to restore 36,000 acres of tidal marsh, and to maintain it,” Speier said.
Lewis noted the need to address the effects of climate change, which would disproportionately affect lower-income communities in the Bay Area.
“[Wetlands] provide natural protection for communities at risk of flooding, and these communities near the shoreline of the San Francisco Bay are some of the most underserved communities in the Bay Area,” Lewis said.
In speaking to the inherent inequity presented by the development of lower-income homes in vulnerable regions of the Bay Area, Lewis emphasized the need to protect communities that would be at a deficit if a major climate disaster were to occur. Soon after, Lewis spoke to how that action needs to be taken quickly to mitigate the risks of climate change.
Lewis said, “Climate change is the big threat to the San Francisco Bay and fortunately we have this amazing opportunity to adapt to climate change with wetlands if we act quickly and invest.”
Finally, Lewis acknowledged President Joe Biden’s openness to working with states and local governments on mitigating climate change.
“Biden has underscored his commitment to tackling climate change with his policy announcements, appointing committed climate leaders throughout the federal agencies, and the San Francisco Bay is one of the best places for the President and Congress to show that the climate agenda includes preparing for rising seas, and for more extreme weather events,” Lewis said.
The actions of Biden mark a major shift away from the harmful policies of the previous presidential administration. Despite this, Huffman wants to encourage accountability on the federal side of the agreement.
Huffman said, “The unique thing about this effort to bring more federal dollars to the San Francisco Bay is that our nine-county Bay Area region totally understands the need and has actually put money on the table. Now it’s time to bring the federal side of the partnership forward.”