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Thursday, 16 February 2017 22:22

10 Ways Long Island Needs the EPA

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Seatuck sent the following letter to Long Island's Congressional delegation today urging them to defend the important work of the EPA. It featured a list of 10 ways Long Island benefits from the agency's work.

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February 16, 2017

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate

322 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Schumer:

            On behalf of the members of the Seatuck Environmenal Association, we write to urge you, for the sake of all Long Islanders (and indeed people throughout New York State and across the Country), to defend the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its important work of protecting human health and the environment.

            Seatuck is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that works to conserve Long Island wildlife and the environment. The organization, which is based in Islip, advocates for wildlife and habitat protection across Long Island and offers a diverse outdoor education program, including the operation of two public nature centers.

            We are alarmed by the President’s nomination of E. Scott Pruitt (a long-time critic of the EPA and climate change denier) to head the agency, by the anti-EPA rhetoric from the new Administration, from Congressional efforts to limit the agency’s effectiveness (H.R. 637 “Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017”), and, most recently, by the bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 861) to eliminate the agency entirely!

            Long Islanders, like all New Yorkers, rely significantly on the EPA to protect our air, water and natural resources. There are countless ways the work of the agency protects the environment, safeguards human health and enhances our quality of life. In an effort to underscore the agency’s important work, we have compiled the following list of some of the direct and tangible ways Long Islanders benefit from the EPA:

10 Ways Long Island Needs the EPA 

1. Clean Water – All Long Islanders get their drinking water from the aquifers that underlie the island. In 1978, this underground water source became the first in the nation recognized by the EPA’s “Sole Source Aquifer Protection Program”. Under the program EPA reviews all proposed projects on the island that receive federal financial assistance to ensure they do not endanger our precious groundwater.

2. Clean Air – EPA oversees a range of programs under the Clean Air Act that exist to safeguard the very air we breathe. Importantly, unlike state agencies, EPA has the ability to address air pollution issues that cross state borders. Long Islanders suffer from both homegrown air pollution (power plants, truck traffic) and “upwind” pollution from out-of-state sources. Despite decades of improvement, Long Island still fails to meet annual air quality standards. However, tough new EPA limits on power plant emissions give us hope for cleaner air in our future.

3. Long Island Sound – Through the establishment of the bi-state Long Island Sound Study, EPA has led the effort to improve Long Island Sound, the nationally-significant estuary that lies between Long Island and Connecticut. Funding and agency-led efforts through EPA’s National Estuary Program have protected coastal habitat, expanded eelgrass beds, reduced nitrogen loading, restricted dumping and achieved a long list of other restoration goals for what was a degraded waterbody. It’s no coincidence that whales have returned to the Sound in recent years for the first time in decades.

4. Peconic Estuary – The Peconic Estuary is another estuary of national significance that is protected through EPA’s National Estuary Program. The EPA-led Peconic Estuary Program directs a multi-jurisdictional effort to protect and improve the quality of the Peconic Bays, which are a key component of the ecologically and economically rich East End of Long Island.

5. Ocean Dumping – Long Island is surrounded by ecologically valuable estuaries and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. The health of our coastal ecosystem and the quality of our lives along the shore depend on the cleanliness and quality of these waterbodies. EPA protects these waters by restricting and monitoring direct (often out-of-state) pollution through the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (also known as the Ocean Dumping Act).

6. Disaster Response – Long Islanders know all to well the human tragedy that resulted from Superstorm Sandy, but storms such as Sandy also produce dangerous environmental conditions and threats to the natural world. EPA works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to protect public health and the environment in the wake of major storm events. From collecting hazardous waste to offering mold remediation assistance to providing more than $340 million in funding for repairs to drinking water and sewage treatment facilities, EPA played a significant role in the island’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

7. Climate Change – Long Island is on the front line of threats from sea-level rise, increasing storm intensity and other impacts of global climate change. EPA is an international leader in efforts to address these threats, contributing world-class research and providing sustainable solutions for adapting to and reducing the impacts from a changing climate.

8. Pesticide Control – Pesticides are widely used on Long Island: in homes & gardens, in agriculture (Suffolk County is one of the leading agricultural producers in New York State) and in efforts to protect the public from vector-borne diseases. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA regulates the production and use of these chemicals to ensure they don’t present unreasonable risks to human health or the environment. EPA’s ban of the mosquito-control pesticide DDT in 1972 is credited with the recovery of osprey, one of Long Island’s iconic wildlife species.

9. Toxic Waste – In 1980 Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which authorized EPA to identify hazardous waste sites across the country and prioritize the worst (not to mention most complex and most expensive) for long-term monitoring and remediation. A special fund – known as Superfund – was established (with penalties recovered from the responsible polluters) to cover the clean up costs. There are nearly three-dozen Superfund sites on Long Island where EPA works to limit impacts to human health and the environment.

10. Waste Management – The infamous 1987 barge incident made Long Island synonymous with waste management problems. With the island’s population now at 7.5 million and growing, the challenges haven’t gone away. Through RCRA, the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act, EPA helps Long Island municipalities deal with the many issues related to household garbage and non-hazardous industrial solid waste, including everything from source reduction to efficient recycling to safe transport and storage.

This is, of course, only a partial list; it’s a highlight reel from EPA’s vast body of vitally important work. It emphasizes the many ways in which the agency benefits the lives of Long Islanders every day. We urge you to stand up against the assault on EPA to protect this and other important work of the agency. While we understand that there are always ways to improve the agencies’ effectiveness and efficiency, we urge you defend EPA from efforts to shrink its role, gut its staff and limit its ability to protect the environment and the health and well being of people across Long Island.

Please let us know if you have any questions or require additional information.

Very truly yours,

ENRICO G. NARDONE, Esq.

Executive Director                            

Last modified on Thursday, 16 February 2017 22:38
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