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Source: The Day

Connecticut, R.I. delegations reaffirm support for dredge disposal site in Long Island Sound


Posted: October 21, 2016
Originally Published: October 20, 2016

The entire congressional delegation for Connecticut and Rhode Island on Thursday sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reaffirming their support for the EPA’s proposed rule designating a new site in eastern Long Island Sound for material dredged from navigation channels, harbors and coves.

The four senators and seven representatives argued that the 1.5-square-mile site, located between the mouth of the Thames River and the southeastern tip of Fishers Island, is needed to prevent increased carbon emissions if vessels were forced to take dredge materials to farther sites in the central and western Sound.

“Our states have been responsibly dredging in eastern Long Island Sound for over 30 years, which was recently confirmed with an A- rating on the 2016 Long Island Sound Report Card,” the letter said, referring to a water quality report issued this month by the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound.

Tim Brown, spokesman for Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said the letter is intended to re-emphasize that Rhode Island and Connecticut are united in supporting the dredge site, which the EPA is expected to finalize in the next few weeks.

It comes after New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in August that his state would take legal action to prevent the EPA from designating the site, which is intended to replace an existing adjacent site scheduled to close on Dec. 23.

On Oct. 6, the New York State Department of State released its ruling formally rejecting the EPA’s proposed rule designating the site, saying it is inconsistent with the Long Island Sound Coastal Management Program and the town of Southold’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. Fishers Island is part of the town of Southold. The inconsistency is “due to issues related to insufficient testing of dredged material, an incomplete cost-benefit analysis, and a failure to explore practicable alternatives to dumping in the Sound,” according to a statement supporting the Department of State’s position from the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

In the Connecticut and Rhode Island delegations’ letter, the designation of the eastern Long Island Sound site is described as being “absolutely vital to the economy of our states and districts, and that of the entire Long Island Sound region.”

Capt. Paul Whitescarver, commander of the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, and Jeffrey Geiger, president of Electric Boat, also have written to the EPA urging approval of the eastern Long Island Sound site.