Zeldin cosponsors bipartisan legislation to fund Long Island Sound programs
U.S. Senators from New York and Connecticut together with the co-chairs of the House Long Island Sound Caucus today introduced legislation to continue funding for Long Island Sound water quality and shore restoration programs.
The bipartisan, two-house bill, the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act, would combine two complementary water quality and shore restoration program authorizations at their previous authorization levels of $40 million and $25 million per year through 2020, respectively, the legislators said in a joint press release.
The legislation provides for additional focus, oversight and coordination of federal activities related to the restoration of Long Island Sound, according to the release.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who co-chairs the House Long Island Sound Caucus with Democratic Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, called the measure “critical legislation to preserve and protect the Long Island Sound.”
The Sound is “an essential part of our local recreation and tourism industries,” Zeldin said. It is relied upon by thousands of Long Islanders as a means of living and is home to more than 9 million people living in the surrounding coastal communities, he said.
“We must do everything we can to protect this natural treasure which is a precious feature of our life, culture and economy here in the First Congressional District of New York,” Zeldin said.
The legislation would allow the Long Island Sound Study to maintain the important gains that have been made, and build on those achievements to further protect and restore the sound and watershed for future generations, according to the press release.
Zeldin said during the last session of Congress he worked “on a bipartisan basis” to pass legislation authorizing $10 million for the L.I. Sound Restoration Program and $26.5 million for the National Estuary Program. The funding for the L.I. Sound Restoration Program was not passed by the Senate during the 114th Congress. The measure authorizing funding for the National Estuary Program was passed.
“The Long Island Sound is a natural treasure and an economic engine for the whole region that draws families, boaters, tourists and anglers to our shores,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said. “This legislation will make sure we have the federal funds necessary to help restore and protect the beaches and waters in and around the Long Island Sound for current and future generations,” he said.
Ongoing, decades-long efforts to promote restoration of the Sound has resulted in real progress, according to Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the advocacy group Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
“Water quality has improved, hypoxia has diminished, sewage plants have been upgraded and whales and dolphins have returned to the Sound,” Esposito said in an interview earlier this month. “We have come too far to go backwards.”
President Donald Trump’s “America First” budget blueprint calls for cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual budget by about one-third and eliminating funding for specific regional efforts.
“The budget returns the responsibility for funding local environmental efforts and programs to state and local entities, allowing EPA to focus on its highest national priorities,” the document said.