Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

WITH RECENT REPORTS OF BUDGET CUTS TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, NEW YORK & CONNECTICUT CONGRESSIONAL MEMBERS URGE EPA TO MAINTAIN FEDERAL FUNDS FOR LONG ISLAND SOUND IN FISCAL YEAR ‘18

March 15, 2017
Press Release

Commercial Fishing, Tourism, Sporting Industries from Long Island Sound Contribute $17-$37 Billion to the Economy Annually

Members: Cuts to Geographic Program would Have Detrimental Effect on Ongoing Efforts to Restore and Protect Long Island Sound’s Water Quality

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) and U.S. Representatives Lee Zeldin (NY-1) and Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) today led a bipartisan letter to the Environmental Protection Agency urging Administrator Scott Pruitt to oppose cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound geographic program for Fiscal Year 2018. The members cited ongoing efforts to restore and protect Long Island Sound’s water quality for residents who live, work, and participate in recreational activities on or near the Sound.

“Any cuts to this program would have a detrimental impact on ongoing efforts to restore and protect Long Island Sound’s water quality and harm the quality of life for the millions of our constituents who live, work and recreate on or near the Sound,” the members wrote in the letter. “Federal funding to continue the Environmental Protection Agency’s program for Long Island Sound is critical to our regional economies and the quality of our environment. Continuing to fund the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Acts will allow the EPA to continue to work collaboratively with local stakeholders to address water quality and invest in new strategies to reduce pollution and improve the environmental quality of the region.”   

In 1985, the EPA, in an agreement with New York and Connecticut, created the Long Island Sound Study (LISS), an office under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) charged with advancing efforts to restore the sound and address low oxygen levels and nitrogen levels that have depleted fish and shellfish populations and have also hurt shoreline wetlands. In 1990, the Long Island Sound Improvement Act was signed into law, providing federal dollars to advance Sound cleanup projects, including wastewater treatment improvements. 
 
In 2006, identifying the need for increased stakeholder participation and the need to focus on coastal restoration and improved public access and education, Congress passed the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act, which provided federal dollars for projects to restore the coastal habitat to help revitalize the wildlife population, coastal wetlands, and plant life. Since then, for every $1 appropriated, the LISS has leveraged $87 from other Federal, state, local, and private funding sources, totaling more than $3.8 billion. This funding has enabled programs to significantly reduce the amount of nitrogen entering the Long Island Sound from sewage treatment plants by 35,000,000 lbs. per year as of 2013, compared to the 1990s. It has also restored at least 1,548 acres and protected 2,580 acres of habitat land.

Schumer, Gillibrand, Blumenthal, Murphy, Zeldin and DeLauro were joined by Elizabeth Esty (CT-5), John Larson (CT-1), Joe Courtney (CT-2), Eliot Engel (NY-16), Thomas Suozzi (NY-3), Jim Himes (CT-4), Grace Meng (NY-6), Joe Crowley (NY-14), Pete King (NY-2), Nita Lowey (NY-17), Daniel Donovan (NY-11), Hakeem Jefferies (NY-8), Kathleen Rice (NY-4) and Jerrold Nadler (NY-10).

The full text of the joint letter is included below:     

Dear Administrator Pruitt,

We are writing to strongly oppose any cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound geographic program in the President’s FY2018 budget request to Congress.  Any cuts to this program would have a detrimental impact on ongoing efforts to restore and protect Long Island Sound’s water quality and harm the quality of life for the millions of our constituents who live, work and recreate on or near the Sound.

Federal funding to continue the Environmental Protection Agency’s program for Long Island Sound is critical to our regional economies and the quality of our environment.  The Long Island Sound is one of 28 estuaries included in the National Estuary Program, and with more than 23 million people living within 50 miles of the Sound, it is a major contributor of economic development and a source of recreation for residents and visitors alike.  According to the Long Island Sound Study, the annual economic value of the sound is between $17 billion and $37 billion each year.  The Sound is home to more than 120 species of fish, which contribute to our states’ vibrant commercial and recreational fishing industries.  
 
In 2000 and 2006, respectively, Congress enacted the Long Island Sound Restoration Act and the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act, which together authorized critical funding for projects that improve water quality, restore and protect habitats, and increase public awareness to the issues affecting the Long Island Sound and its watershed.  This funding has allowed the federal government, working with state and local partners, as well as with the private sector, to make significant progress in improving the Sound.

For example, as of 2015, the amount of nitrogen entering the Sound from sewage treatment plants has decreased by 42 million lbs. per year as a result of EPA funding.  Continuing to fund the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Acts will allow the EPA to continue to work collaboratively with local stakeholders to address water quality and invest in new strategies to reduce pollution and improve the environmental quality of the region.  
 
Important Environmental Protection Agency funding for the Long Island Sound Study area has been very effective in leveraging additional resources from state, local and private partners.  According to the Long Island Sound Study Office, since 2006, for every $1 in EPA funding, $87 was leveraged from other sources.  
                
Thank you for your attention to this request, and we urge you to work with us to ensure that this critical funding is retained for Fiscal Year 2018.