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Lawmakers demand ‘mothball fleet’ briefing

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez; Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo; U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., are pressing the Bush Administration for a plan to make sure the “mothball fleet” that’s rusting out there in Suisun Bay isn’t releasing toxic materials into the water.

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In a letter sent today to the federal Maritime Administration — which maintains the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet and is responsible for its cleanup — the lawmakers asked for a briefing on the current state of the long-mothballed navy fleet and for an update on specific steps the Administration is taking. Our brethren at the Contra Costa Times revealed last Sunday that the administration received a report in February on possible environmental damage, but it’s unclear whether anything is being done about it.

“The beauty and the utility of the bay are two of our region’s greatest resources,” Tauscher said. “Because of this we need to be vigilant and take every step toward protecting it from present and future environmental hazards. The fact that the have been sitting on this report for months is infuriating. Bay Area citizens have the right to know the environmental impact of the mothball fleet which is why we are putting pressure on the Bush administration to let us know what, if any, plans they have to protect our Bay.”

Said Miller: “We recognize that this is a complicated situation but inaction is not a solution. We intend to keep the pressure on the administration to develop a plan that protects the environment and allows for these ships to be disposed of properly.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.