Protect Iconic Bay

Salt Ponds CA

Target: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy

Goal: Ensure the San Francisco Bay maintains its federal protection.

A leaked memo from lawyers of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the federal government should no longer apply Clean Water Act regulations to the Redwood City salt ponds. This is exactly what Cargill, the largest privately held multinational corporation in America, has been heavily lobbying for behind the scenes. At any moment, the EPA could act on the memo and breathe life into the company’s reckless plan to pave over the San Francisco Bay’s wetlands and build thousands of houses. Nevertheless, the EPA can still preserve legal protection for the Bay’s salt ponds. The agency has the unique authority to overrule the U.S. Army Corps and maintain the Clean Water Act authority over these ponds.

Many scientists agree that Cargill’s salt ponds in Redwood City, CA are one of the most important shoreline habitats on the Bay. Surrounded by the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the ponds are a wintering and migratory spot for tens of thousands of shorebirds. Furthermore, some of the world’s last remaining endangered western snowy plovers depend on these ponds as breeding grounds.

Redwood City salt ponds offer a rare opportunity to restore San Francisco Bay’s tidal marshes to benefit wildlife and the people of the Bay Area. Observers and scientists realize and understand the benefits of these ponds because nearly-identical retired salt ponds near Vallejo were recently reconnected to the Bay, and wildlife is already flocking back. Redwood City’s salt ponds can have the same future if the EPA preserves Clean Water Act protection.

Two years ago, Cargill was exposed for bullying federal agencies to declare the salt ponds in Redwood City exempt from the Clean Water Act and other protections. Now we know Cargill has managed to convince an Army lawyer to support reversing decades of federal protection for Bay salt ponds. This dangerous re-interpretation of the Clean Water Act was created in secret, with no EPA participation, no approval from Congress, and no opportunity for public input. U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy can ensure that the Clean Water Act continues to protect the Bay. Please take action today and tell her to stop this conniving possibility.


Dear Administrator McCarthy,

San Francisco Bay’s fragile shoreline is at risk from development again. Cargill, the largest private corporation in the United States, is trying to convince the federal government to exempt the Redwood City salt ponds from the Clean Water Act, making it easier for Cargill to pave over 1,400 acres of restorable shoreline. This would allow the corporation to build thousands of homes and ultimately devastate endangered shorebirds and the local ecosystem. Fortunately, it’s not too late to act – the EPA can intervene and preserve federal protection of the site. But they need to hear from you.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is poised to relinquish federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction on San Francisco Bay salt ponds at the request of Cargill. Cargill’s heavy lobbying of Corps lawyers resulted in an internal legal memo that would reverse decades of federal protection for Bay salt ponds, and upend long-established precedents.

That novel, unilateral re-interpretation of the Clean Water Act was created in secret, without EPA consultation, Congressional approval, or opportunity for public input. We urge you to use your authority to prevent the U.S. Army Corps from declining Clean Water Act jurisdiction on Bay salt ponds and ensure that the EPA retains the lead responsibility for evaluating federal protection of these important waters of the United States.

Don’t pave our bay!


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Matt Leddy via Flickr

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