For Immediate Release, February 26, 2021

Contact:

Hollin Kretzmann, (510) 844-7133, hkretzmann@biologicaldiversity.org

New Drilling Project in Bay Area Wetlands Meets Resistance

Groups Unite in Opposition to Federal Permit for New Gas Well, Pipeline

OAKLAND, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity joined with a dozen environmental and health advocacy groups today in a letter urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reject a new methane gas well that would be drilled on the shores of Suisun Bay in Northern California.

The Army Corps is deciding whether to issue a permit to fill wetland habitat to allow the new well in Solano County.

“The federal government shouldn’t even be considering new oil and gas projects when the climate emergency demands we move away from fossil fuels,” said Hollin Kretzmann, an attorney at the Center’s Climate Law Institute. “On top of that, this project is smack in the middle of important habitat for endangered species and connects to the waters of San Francisco Bay.”

The operator, Sunset Exploration, proposes to drill a new gas well in the Suisun Marsh, hoping to find methane gas. The well would require a new mile-and-a-half pipeline to transport the gas to a downstream buyer.

Studies have shown oil and gas development is has deadly consequences. A recent Harvard study estimated that 34,000 premature deaths in California in a single year were attributable to fossil fuel pollution.

Gas wells and pipelines can leak methane, a super-polluting greenhouse gas. A well in Solano County leaked an estimated 30 million tons of methane while left unattended over decades. Oil and gas wells can also cause groundwater degradation and lead to spills and accidents at the surface.

Fossil fuel development disproportionately harms Black, Indigenous, Latinx and Asian communities, many of them low-income, already suffering from industry pollution. Nearby cities like Benicia and Vallejo have long been exposed to toxic air pollution from the numerous oil and gas refineries in the area.

“This proposal is yet another example of environmental racism in action,” said Tyler Earl, a staff attorney at Communities for a Better Environment. “It flies in the face of the Biden administration’s commitment to prioritizing environmental and climate justice across all of government.”

The Army Corps recently considered a project proposal to dredge 13 miles of San Francisco Bay. The deepened channel would have allowed oil refineries to receive larger ships carrying more imported crude oil. The Army Corps withdrew the project last year after widespread opposition to the proposal.

“The Army Corps needs to be consistent in its consideration of risks to Bay Area communities and ecosystems,” said Kretzmann. “It should reject this project along with any other dangerous, dirty fossil fuel projects.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Founded in 1978, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) is one of the preeminent environmental justice organizations in the nation. CBE’s mission is to build people’s power in California’s BIPOC and low-income communities to achieve environmental health and justice by preventing and reducing pollution and building green, healthy and sustainable communities and environments.