Highlights and Happenings: December 2017

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CT Environmental Champion Awards.

Celebrating Connecticut's Environmental Champions

We held our first-ever CT Environmental Champion Awards reception in Hartford, where we recognized CT State Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. and CT State Rep. Mary Mushinsky for their dedicated leadership on protecting Connecticut's natural resources and public health. Thanks to all who joined us for a great night!

Governor Cuomo Commits to Full Cleanup of Navy/Grumman Plume

This December, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York will fully remediate the Navy/Grumman toxic groundwater plume in Bethpage on Long Island. For decades, the federal government has dragged its feet in cleaning up this plume, which is currently 1.8 miles wide, 3.7 miles long, and up to 800 feet deep (and growing)! The Governor has proposed $150M in funding to start the process of fully containing and treating the plume.

Victory! Suffolk County Bans Cesspools to Combat Nitrogen Pollution

Suffolk County Executive Bellone signed legislation banning the installation of antiquated cesspools to reduce nitrogen pollution of Long Island's groundwater. Though Suffolk County banned installing cesspools on new properties decades ago, there was a loophole that allowed homeowners to simply replace an existing failing cesspool with another cesspool. Now, the loophole is closed, and residents with failing cesspools must upgrade to conventional septic systems or advanced, innovative alternative systems. If you have a failing cesspool or septic system, the County has a grant program that helps homeowners subsidize a new, advanced wastewater treatment system with nitrogen removal technology.

Fighting to Have the Pharmaceutical Industry Take Responsibility for Its Waste

In December, we applauded Governor Cuomo as he vetoed flawed pharmaceutical disposal legislation. While well-intentioned, the bill would have failed to provide all New Yorkers with access to cost-effective, convenient safe disposal options for unwanted or expired medications (to avoid flushing or drug abuse). In the Governor's veto message, he called for the State to consider a statewide, manufacturer-funded program instead. CCE has launched a campaign to urge New York State to adopt a comprehensive, manufacturer-funded (not taxpayer-funded!) program that would provide convenient access to safe pharmaceutical disposal for all New Yorkers. Help us by taking action today!
BYOBag press conference.

Suffolk County's BYOBag Law Takes Effect

Suffolk County's legislation to curb disposable bag pollution went into effect on January 1. This law places a 5-cent fee on single-use plastic and paper bags—a fee that can be avoided by bringing your own bags. In December, we joined labor and business leaders, students, and teachers from across Suffolk County, as well as Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer, for a press conference to discuss Suffolk County's BYOBag law. The students and teachers presented on a survey in which they found that over 72% of shoppers used single-use bags, while only 5% used reusable bags (the rest used either no bag or a combination of types). We still have a long way to go toward preventing plastic bag pollution, so get in the habit of bringing your reusable bag today and avoid paying the nickel!

Working to End Disposable Bag Pollution Across New York State

While we continue to work on local initiatives to end disposable bag pollution from Erie to Onondaga to Suffolk County, we are also pushing New York to address the problem statewide. In December, we submitted comments to Governor Cuomo's Plastic Bag Task Force, calling for a statewide policy that would ban plastic carryout bags and place a fee on paper bags. We will continue to push to have this policy included in the upcoming 2018 NYS budget, so stay tuned for opportunities to get involved!

Building on Our Work to Protect NY's Water Resources

Gearing up for 2018, the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee held a hearing on water quality and implementation of the historic $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017. CCE's Adrienne Esposito discussed several critical water quality issues that should be addressed in the 2018 budget, including the importance of a manufacturer-funded take-back program for pharmaceutical drugs, creating a drinking water standard for 1,4-dioxane, addressing PFC contamination in our waters, creating a statewide action plan to address harmful algal blooms, and more.

Smart Growth and Water Infrastructure

We were pleased to participate in the 2017 Smart Growth Summit, hosted by our friends at Vision Long Island. CCE Executive Director Adrienne Esposito participated in panel discussion on the threats to Long Island's water and the wastewater infrastructure needs that face our communities.

Upcoming: People's Hearing on Repeal of the Clean Power Plan

The Trump administration will not be holding hearings in New York on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil-fuel power plants. CCE is proud to cosponsor the "People's Hearing," which will ensure New Yorkers' voices are heard on this important measure. Hearings will be held 2:30pm–5:00pm and 6:00pm–8:00pm on January 9 at the New School at 66 W 12th St, NYC. Members of the public can register to speak. The hearing is being held by the Office of the NYS Attorney General and the NYC Mayor's Office, and all comments will be submitted to the EPA before the January 16 deadline.
CCE in the News
December 30, 2017 – from CBS Connecticut: Ray Dunaway: 2017's Most Listened-To Interviews
December 28, 2017 – from Niagara Frontier Publications: DEC announces first round of participating pharmacies, hospitals & long-term care facilities in state's pilot drug 'take-back' program
December 28, 2017 – from City & State New York: Winners & Losers 12/29/17
December 22, 2017 – from Newsday: 5-Cent Fee On Plastic, Paper Bags In Suffolk County Begins Jan. 1
December 21, 2017 – from News 12 Long Island: Bellone signs bill banning installation of new cesspools in Suffolk
December 21, 2017 – from CBS New York: Cuomo: State Will Take Action On Contaminated Long Island Ground Water
December 21, 2017 – from News 12 Long Island: Gov. Cuomo announces $150M to clean up and contain Bethpage plume
December 21, 2017 – from Newsday: Cuomo: State to spend $150M to treat, contain Bethpage plume
December 20, 2017 – from WSHU: After Cuomo Veto, Lawmakers To Tweak Pine Barrens Protection Bill
December 20, 2017 – from Shelter Island Reporter: Get your nickels ready: Suffolk County bag law takes effect Jan. 1
December 19, 2017 – from WSHU: 5 Cent Plastic Bag Fee To Hit Suffolk In 2018
December 18, 2017 – from CBS New York: Suffolk County Shoppers To Be Charged For Single-Use Bags
December 18, 2017 – from CBS New York: Plastic Bag Fee Set To Take Effect In Suffolk County
December 18, 2017 – from WABC TV: Suffolk County plastic bag ban set to take effect January 1
December 16, 2017 – from PBS News Hour: Long Island residents worry their tap water is unsafe
December 15, 2017 – from News 12 Long Island: Westhampton man charged with illegal dumping in Pine Barrens
December 14, 2017 – from Albany Times-Union: Pine Barrens bill threatens renewable energy goals
December 10, 2017 – from Stamford Advocate: John Breunig: Not the brightest bulbs
December 7, 2017 – from North Branford Patch: Sen. Kennedy Earns Major Environmental Award
December 7, 2017 – from The Long Island Advance: Solar farm applicant withdraws, but refiles
December 4, 2017 – from Newsday: NY legislator: State should join Suffolk in suing over contaminants

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