By Shaun Maccoun
SAN JOSE — As part of its commitment to public safety, the environment and serving the community, PG&E Corporation today (Feb. 25) made a $250,000 shareholder-funded commitment to the People for a Clean and Healthy Bay Coalition.
With this contribution, PG&E joins a growing list of local leaders — including the Bay Area Council, Save the Bay, The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, San Mateo County Economic Development Association, The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy and Audubon California — in support of environmental restoration, pollution reduction and critical flood protection around the San Francisco Bay.
“Absolutely nothing is more important to us than keeping the public safe,” said PG&E Corporation Chairman and CEO Tony Earley. “Joining efforts like this will protect our communities and enable PG&E to continue to provide the reliable service our customers count on to power their lives.”
If approved by voters in June, “Yes on Measure AA for a Clean and Healthy Bay” would raise $500 million over 20 years to fund critical conservation and flood protection projects, including the restoration of 15,000 acres of wetlands and creation of 25 miles of new Bay trails. Co-chaired by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the campaign has received endorsement from local elected officials, and business, environmental, labor, philanthropic and civic leaders.
PG&E made its check presentation at at marina in the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project Area, the largest tidal wetland restoration project on the West Coast. The project encompasses 15,100 acres of former salt ponds located around the south edge of San Francisco Bay, bordering Silicon Valley.
“Our wetlands are integral to our way of life in the Bay Area,” said Dave Cortese, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. “If we want to keep this a desirable place to live and work, we need to eliminate the trash and pollution that has built up from years of neglect and restore the natural environment. It will not only enhance the Bay, but also help protect us from the risks associated with climate change.”
Protecting and restoring San Francisco Bay will benefit the community for generations by reducing trash and pollution and restoring habitat for fish, birds and wildlife along the Bay and its shoreline.
Studies have shown that should an extreme storm hit and trigger flooding, much of the Bay Area, including Silicon Valley, is at risk of suffering significant damage. This includes potential impacts to homes and businesses, as well as critical infrastructure, such as ports, airports, water, sewer, transportation and energy facilities.
Other reactions included:
- Brigid McCormack, executive director of Audubon California: “A healthy San Francisco Bay is vital for the millions of birds that rely upon this ecosystem. But it is also a prerequisite for Bay Area communities and businesses to thrive, as well. I am pleased PG&E understands the connection that we all have to the Bay and am grateful for their contribution to the Measure AA campaign.”
- Rosanne Foust, San Mateo County Economic Development Association president and CEO: “If the Bay Area gets hit with an extreme storm and we experience severe flooding, the damages associated with it would reach into the billions, greatly impacting the business community. Supporting ‘Yes on Measure AA’ is a critical step in reducing that risk.”
- Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council: “Wetland restoration pencils out. Not only do wetlands provide vital habitat for the fish, birds and other wildlife the Bay needs to thrive, but they also act as a natural sponge, absorbing storm surges and adapting to rising sea levels. This is especially important given recent estimates from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that the region could suffer more than $10 billion in economic damages during a 150-year extreme storm event. I applaud PG&E and Tony Earley for exhibiting the corporate leadership necessary to keep our Bay clean, healthy and safe.”
- Carl Guardino, Silicon Valley Leadership Group president and CEO: “It’s rare to see such a diverse group of business, environmental, corporate and civic leaders unite for the same cause. It’s happening today because this initiative impacts each and every one of us who lives and works in the area. And because of the important innovation that happens here, its effects are far reaching.”
- San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo: “The Bay is the lifeblood of our region. Wetlands on its shoreline are critical for climate resilience in the decades ahead, and our future vitality as a region requires robust investment in their restoration.”
PG&E’s commitment to the environment, which includes providing its customers with some of the nation’s cleanest energy — with more than 55 percent coming from non-greenhouse gas emitting sources — has grown to include a focus on adapting to changing climate conditions, and ensuring its system is more resilient to extreme weather conditions.
This ranges from modernizing infrastructure with new technologies to collaborating on emergency response plans and procedures to address near-term risks such as storms, heat waves and wildfires. PG&E also maintains a team of scientists who monitor sea level rise, temperature increases and other factors to assess the likelihood of potential impacts in the future.
“We are a company with a strong and enduring commitment to the environment and combating climate change. It’s rooted in a commitment to our customers and to doing our work in a way that protects the vital species and habitats that call our service area home and that’s why we’re pleased to be joining this important effort,” said Earley.
For more information on PG&E’s sustainability leadership, see the company’s 2015 Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report at www.pgecorp.com/sustainability.
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.