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SAN FRANCISCO-The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has put off the releasing of $8.2 million to the San Francisco International Airport for an environmental study of its proposed runway project on the grounds that it needs more information.

However, the runway funds are the ones that are problematic. The grant, in that amount, was accepted from the Federal Aviation Administration, along with other airport grants totaling $39 million, pending board approval next week.

Members of the board’s Finance Committee are concerned with which contractor would carry out the review of preliminary environmental engineering for the runway project, and what the consultant’s budget, hourly rate and schedule will be. Airport officials say that these concerns are routine and will not slow down the overall project.

Groups such as San Francisco BayKeeper, the Alliance for a Clean Waterfront and the Sierra Club are protesting against the runway, saying that filling hundreds of acres of the San Francisco Bay is a threat to the ecosystem.

They contend the runway project may damage the wetlands along the Bay’s edge. In addition, the groups say that the runways could release massive quantities of sediment and toxic contanimants throughout the Bay, as well as create additional noise and regional air quality problems.

Without a complete environmental study, the project cannot continue.

At an Airport Commission meeting this week, authorization was given to the airport to negotiate with Wildlands Inc., a company in Sacramento on an agreement that opens the way to buy environmental mitigation credits on the 1,000-acre Skaggs Island property north of San Pablo Bay, if the runway is approved.

The proposed deal is estimated to cost nearly $9 million over 5 years and requires a vote by commissioner to complete.

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