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Source: Spectrum News

Environmental Group Disagrees With Cuomo Criticism of Lake Commission


Posted: June 1, 2017
Originally Published: May 31, 2017

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- After touring the damage throughout a Monroe County community along the Lake Ontario shoreline earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered a scathing criticism of the International Joint Commission that regulates the lake's levels.

"There's no doubt but that the IJC blew it. I mean they blew it. I don't even see how you can debate that," said Cuomo, D-New York.

Citizens Campaign for the Environment, an advocacy group based in New York and Connecticut, is accepting the governor's challenge.

"Unfortunately, the governor, someone who has time and time again used sound science and objective analysis to make his decisions, even when he takes heat for those decisions, unfortunately blamed the International Joint Commission for these problems when it's Mother Nature thats to blame," Associate Executive Director Brian Smith said.

Smith said Cuomo is ignoring the science in blaming the IJC's recently implemented Plan 2014 for high water levels. He said in order to avoid the current flooding, the commission would have had to begin letting out water last fall.

"At that point in time, we didn't even have Plan 2014 in effect," Smith said. "It was still the 1958 plan, so regardless of plan in place, they did everything correctly but we had these catastrophic rain events that contributed to this problem."

The governor is also on record saying he doesn't buy the commission's rationale for not lowering lake levels now. Smith said that's not an option, in part, because it would cause devastating flooding in Montreal but also because there would be long-term consequences.

"By repealing Plan 2014, we'll stop a process that's going to restore the health of a lake and river. It's going to provide, it provides millions of dollars in benefit to shoreline communities, produces hydro-power that powers our businesses and it supports the quality of life that we all depend upon," he said.

Still, while the advocacy group doesn't agree with the governor's opinion about the IJC, it is commending the work New York is doing to help its residents.

"The governor and the legislature are doing a good job in providing the resources that are necessary to help these people with their near term problems but also make the shorelines more resilient," Smith said.

He said the federal government needs to get involved as well, to help build break walls and wetlands moving forward.

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