U.S. Attorney’S Office Announces Creation Of Conservation Fund
SAN FRANCISCO - United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced today the creation of the San Francisco Bay Estuary Conservation Fund (the Fund). The Fund, to be administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), is dedicated to protecting and restoring the San Francisco Bay estuary environment, including, but not limited to, fish and wildlife, and the habitats upon which they depend, such as the water, land, and air resources in and around the estuary, and improving federal, state and local enforcement of environmental and wildlife protection laws.
The $8.7 million seed money for the Fund comes from several corporate criminal cases that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has prosecuted in the past several years, including the Wal-Mart conviction announced earlier today, where $4.5 million of the settlement will go directly to the Fund. Other cases include the Cosco Busan oil spill wherein $2 million of the $10 million the shipping company, Fleet Management Ltd, paid as part of a federal plea agreement, will go towards the Fund, as well as payments from criminal convictions against Horizon Lines, Shore Terminals, Kie-Con, and Dianik Bross Shipping. In all of these cases, in addition to a fine, the companies agreed to make community service payments in order to address the environmental harm or potential environmental harm created by the company’s unlawful conduct.
The Fund was created by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with the goal of establishing a sustainable revenue source dedicated to local environmental projects focused on protecting and restoring the San Francisco Bay estuary. Congress has delegated NFWF the authority to establish and administer these types of funds. NFWF will determine the grant amounts and select projects in consultation with a multi-jurisdictional consultation panel to be established for the Fund that will be comprised of federal and state fish and wildlife trustee agencies. NFWF will also consult with other agencies in accordance with applicable plea agreements. The Fund is anticipated to be augmented by investment earnings, and any additional funds received from criminal prosecutions or private and public donations.
“The Fund provides a way for criminal polluters to help protect the environment in the communities where they committed their crimes. The creation of this Fund now offers long term funding for addressing environmental concerns throughout the Bay Area” said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.
The prosecutions that led to the creation of the Fund include not only the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but the federal agencies that play a critical role in investigating these cases, including, but not limited to, the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigative Division, the United States Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with our state and local counterparts, such as the California Department of Fish & Wildlife.