Congressman Lee Zeldin, co-chair of the Long Island Sound Caucus and a founding member of the bipartisan Congressional Estuary Caucus, joined by local elected officials and environmental advocates at press conference on Monday calling for full support of the Long Island Sound Program and National Estuary Program.
“One of our natural treasures, the Long Island Sound, is a precious feature of our life, culture and economy,” said Mr. Zeldin. “It is also essential to our local recreation and tourism industries, as well as the livelihood of thousands of Long Islanders. As such, a key natural and economic resource, we must continue to protect this critical waterway. Over the years, water quality around Long Island has suffered from pollution, overdevelopment and other negative impacts. The Long Island Sound Program is dedicated to water quality and wetlands restoration, as well as other local conservation projects to restore local beaches and protect wildlife. Funding is prioritized to address urgent and challenging issues that threaten the ecological and economic well-being of coastal areas including nitrogen, harmful algae blooms, and flooding or wetland loss. The National Estuary Program is an important Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wetlands protection program for 28 estuaries in the United States that the EPA has recognized to be of ‘national significance’ due to their threatened status from pollution and overdevelopment. There are two here on the East End: the Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay. The National Estuary Program was established by the Clean Water Act and makes important grants to state and local programs to promote water quality and wetland restoration. The National Estuary Program is the primary funding source for the Peconic Estuary Program.”
“As co-chair of the Long Island Sound Caucus,” Congressman Zeldin continued, “I’m calling on my colleagues to help ensure that the Long Island Sound Program and National Estuary Program are fully supported and funded in the upcoming appropriations process; and certainly not eliminated.”
Mr. Zeldin said he helped prevent a proposed 22 percent cut in funding for the Long Island Sound under the Obama administration, and helped lead efforts to reauthorize the National Estuary Program.
“Today, I am requesting full funding for two EPA programs essential for our local environment and at levels already approved last Congress with bipartisan support — $10 million approved by the House for the Long Island Sound Program and $26.5 million approved by the House and Senate for the National Estuary Program.”
Mr. Zeldin said he will also reintroduce the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act, which would reauthorize water quality and shore restoration funding for the Sound.
“Protecting our land, air and water are crucial priorities for Long Island. Federal funding of the National Estuary Program and the Long Island Sound Program are critically important,” said New York State Senator Ken LaValle at the press conference. “I look forward to our continued partnership as we further our efforts to protect and restore our water resources for future generations.”
“We are extremely grateful for the consistent support of Congressman Zeldin,” said Dr. Alison Branco, director of the Peconic Estuary Program. “National Estuary Programs, like PEP, are non-regulatory and consensus-driven, building diverse partnerships to achieve on-the-ground results. Federal investment in our estuaries of national significance supports thousands of jobs, strengthens America’s economy, and helps ensure the future of our coastal communities.”