Op-Ed - Congressman Lee Zeldin - Defending the LI Sound Against President's Budget Proposals
Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 9:24PM
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“Defending the Long Island Sound against the President’s Budget Proposals”

Op-Ed Written by Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-01)

Congressman Lee ZeldinLast year, President Obama presented Congress with a proposed budget that completely ignored one of the nation’s most populated and popular watersheds— the Long Island Sound. Here we are now in 2016, President Obama’s final year in office, and we must relive last year’s fight in order to protect our waterways.

Today, the Long Island Sound, which borders the states of both New York and Connecticut, provides a diverse ecosystem with more than 170 species of fish, over 1,200 invertebrates and many different species of migratory birds; however, the Long Island Sound is not just a cultural and natural treasure, but also essential to the everyday economy and livelihood of millions of Long Islanders. The Sound is home to more than 9 million people living in the coastal communities around the Sound, and over 24 million living within 50 miles of the Sound. Revenue generated by the Sound contributes to the overall and much larger Long Island Sound Basin. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the economic value of the Basin’s natural capital is estimated to be anywhere from $17 billion to $37 billion in one year. From activities such as sport and commercial fishing, boating, recreation and tourism, it is estimated to bring in over $8 billion a year for the Long Island region. Furthermore, reports that detail the economic value of the Sound estimate that at least 191,000 jobs stem from this valuable estuary; either directly or indirectly. Moreover, our local schools and colleges work in the Long Island Sound, studying ways to improve its cleanliness and helping to preserve its countless benefits. The Sound is also our gateway to New England and a crucial means of transportation for thousands on any given day.

While the Great Lakes and Chesapeake get special attention in the President’s budget, the Long Island Sound, a true Long Island treasure, is nothing more than an afterthought. This is unacceptable; especially since over the years, the Long Island Sound has suffered severely from issues such as pollution, overdevelopment and the dumping of dredged materials. Currently, restoration for the Long Island Sound is funded at $3.94 million through the Long Island Sound Program; however the Obama administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 would cut that number by over $1 million. The Long Island Sound will not be able to overcome the many challenges it faces with such a dramatic reduction in essential funding.

Last year, when President Obama proposed a 22% cut to the Sound, I successfully fought on a bipartisan basis to reverse the proposed cut. I’ve also continued to oppose the misguided plan to dump Connecticut’s dredged waste into this critical waterway. Long Island cannot be a dumping ground for any questionable waste dredged out of Connecticut rivers. Additionally, I joined with Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY) to introduce bipartisan legislation in the House, the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act (H.R.2930), to ensure the Sound is protected and restored for generations to come. Our bill proposes $65 million in funding per year through 2020 for a water quality and shore restoration program and additional focus, oversight and coordination of federal activities related to the restoration of the Sound. In addition, I was proud to support $27 million in funding for the National Estuary Program last year to protect Long Island’s natural estuaries, including the Long Island Sound. 

With valuable natural treasures like the Long Island Sound, comes a great responsibility to protect them. We must all work together to ensure our waterways are preserved for generations to come.

 

Congressman Lee Zeldin, a member of the Long Island Sound Caucus in the House of Representatives, represents the First Congressional District of New York. Congressman Zeldin is the lead Republican sponsor of the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act in the House of Representatives.

Article originally appeared on Smithtown Matters - Online Local News about Smithtown, Kings Park, St James, Nesconset, Commack, Hauppauge, Ft. Salonga (http://www.smithtownmatters.com/).
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