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CCE IN THE NEWS

Source: Newsday

Editorial: Can't see the forest for the trees

Pressure's on

Posted: June 2, 2017
Originally Published: June 1, 2017

Whatever Suffolk County’s share of the $2.5 billion in the new state budget for water quality turns out to be, it won’t be enough to help fund its septic replacement program in the long term. Suffolk still needs a stable and recurring source of revenue for grants to help homeowners replace failing septic systems and cesspools with nitrogen-reducing technology.

That means Suffolk still needs to put a referendum before voters to create such a funding stream, such as a fee on water usage. And putting a referendum on the ballot requires State Legislature approval.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan told environmentalists that he wants the Suffolk legislature to ask him to allow such a measure to be put on November’s ballot. So the environmentalists wrote letters to all 18 Suffolk lawmakers a couple weeks ago asking them to sign on.

So far, only term-limited Republican Tom Barraga has agreed. No Democrats, who have a 12-6 majority, have signed on yet.

“It’s incomprehensible,” Dick Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, told The Point on Thursday. “We ask government to do a lot of difficult things. This isn’t difficult.”

Amper and his colleagues — Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Kevin McDonald of The Nature Conservancy and Robert DeLuca of Group for the East End — have split up Suffolk’s lawmakers for lobbying.

With the scheduled June 21 end of the state legislative session looming, expect the pressure to build.

Michael Dobie