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U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers Ends Plans To Dredge San Francisco Bay

An oil tanker near the Martinez-Benicia Bridges

Every day, boats travel into the San Francisco Bay, carrying with them cargo and other supplies. Some travel up the channel that connects the San Francisco Bay to Stockton. It’s the primary route for tankers carrying oil products to and from several oil refineries.

This channel is naturally pretty shallow, about 35 feet. But a fully loaded oil tanker needs deeper waters to travel. So currently the tankers can’t be fully loaded because otherwise they’d get stuck. Instead they have to make multiple trips. This ends up costing those tankers more money.

In 2016, the Army Corps of Engineers submitted plans to dredge the channel, making it deep enough for fully loaded oil tankers. But on Monday, the Army Corps announced it was ending those plans because no local agencies were willing to help pay for it.

Environmental groups like the Center for Biological Diversity say that ending the project is a big win for the Bay Area. They say that the dredging would have worsened the Bay’s water quality, threatening fish and other species. It also would have opened the door for more oil processing, which would have worsened the air quality in neighborhoods next to the refineries.

Wren Farrell (he/him) is a writer, producer and journalist living in San Francisco.