Protecting Our Drinking Water from 1,4-Dioxane
CCE is fighting for a health-based NYS drinking water standard for 1,4-dioxane, a likely carcinogen that has been detected at high levels in Long Island wells. Not only do we need to ban 1,4-dioxane in personal care products, but we need to treat the existing contamination to protect public health as well. The NYS Drinking Water Council, which is charged with creating a drinking water standard for 1,4-dioxane, has yet to take action. In September, we joined NYS Senators Hannon, Marcellino, and Phillips to call on NYS to set a health-based drinking water standard and mandate the removal of this harmful chemical from our drinking water.
Keeping Up the Fight Against Plastic Pollution
September was a busy and very successful month in both NY and CT in our work to prevent plastic—from tiny plastic microfibers to the ubiquitous plastic bag—from polluting our communities and treasured waters:
• Victory! Ulster Becomes First NY County to Ban Plastic Bags: The Ulster County Legislature passed a ban on single-use plastic bags, along with a 5-cent fee on paper bags, to incentivize people to BYOBag (bring your own bag). A huge thank you to Legislator Tracey Bartels and the other bill champions, who worked for years to pass a very strong BYOBag bill. Next up in Ulster: reducing plastic straws!
• Victory! Stamford, CT Bans Plastic Bags: The Stamford Board of Representatives voted yes to ban single-use plastic bags and place a 10-cent fee on paper bags! Thank you to our partners at BYO Stamford and the hundreds of people who called their legislators this September in support of the bill.
• Combating Plastic Microfibers in CT: We participated in the first meeting of the Connecticut Microfiber Working Group, a consortium of apparel industry professionals, environmental advocates, and academics working to identify the most common sources of plastic microfiber pollution and create a consumer awareness and education campaign about the problem. Up to 1.7 million tons of microfibers—often coming from clothing—enter our environment every year! We can get ahead of this problem, but the time for action is now.
• Cleaning Up the Patchogue River: We joined the National Park Service and Village of Patchogue, NY for their annual river cleanup. Although BYOBag bills in Patchogue and Suffolk (along with the polystyrene ban in Patchogue) have helped reduce plastic litter, we still have a lot of work to do to prevent plastic pollution, and cleanups are still needed.
Another Summer of Discontent for LI Waters
CCE and our partners the Long Island Clean Water Partnership joined Dr. Chris Gobler for our end of summer report on the state of Long Island's waters. Unfortunately, harmful algal blooms plagued our bays and estuaries and posed a growing threat to our fisheries, beaches, and public health once again. Excessive nitrogen from sewage and septic systems continues to degrade our waters, but there is some good news. In some areas where nitrogen pollution has been significantly reduced, like Western Long Island Sound, we are seeing improved water quality and decreased hypoxia! If you missed it, you can still watch the whole press conference.
Restoring the Great Lakes = Big Economic Returns
A new study by the University of Michigan showed that investments in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) have resulted in a more than 3-1 return on investment. Not only is the GLRI making our lakes healthier, but it is also contributing to increased waterfront development, tourism, and home values, which all benefit the economy. The study looked at the City of Buffalo and found that Great Lakes restoration is estimated to provide more than a 4-1 return on investment in the decades to come! In September, we continued to fight for full funding of the GLRI, despite attempts by the President to slash funding for the critical program.
Pushing for Better Recycling in CT
CCE's Louis Burch was elected to the Connecticut Recycling Coalition (CRC) board at the CRC's annual business meeting in Branford, CT. CRC's membership includes corporate, municipal, institutional, and private members working to advance Connecticut's recycling and materials management programs and services on both the local and state levels. Formed in 1989, CRC assists members in improving the efficacy of their own programs, educating the community and advocating policies and programs that make recycling more effective, economical, and robust throughout the state. We're excited to join the CRC and advance recycling in CT!
Celebrating Long Island's Estuaries
In September, CCE joined our partners in Long Island water protection for Estuary Day at Seatuck Environmental Association in Islip. The event brought together diverse groups to celebrate the beauty and natural resources of Long Island's Estuaries of National Significance. The public had an opportunity to participate in a coastal cleanup, wildlife hikes, and information sessions to learn more about our local communities' efforts to protect Long Island's coastal waterways. We were delighted to collaborate with Cornell Cooperative Extension to give a presentation on our Sound Gardening program, with information on how homeowners can make landscaping choices that better protect Long Island's water for the future!
NY: We Want Offshore Wind
This summer, Governor Cuomo announced that NYS will be procuring 800 MW of offshore wind by 2019 as part of the State's goal of reaching 2,400 MW by 2030. Last month, CCE joined our environmental and labor partners at meetings held by NYSERDA in NYC and Long Beach to learn more about the plan to bring offshore wind to NY. Before the Long Beach meeting, we joined Senator Todd Kaminsky for a great press conference on the need to move forward with responsibly-sited wind projects and move away from fossil fuels.
CCE's Adrienne Esposito Wins HSBC Cares Customer of the Year Award
At a ceremony held at Gotham Hall, in New York City, HSBC Cares awarded CCE Executive Director Adrienne Esposito with its Customer of the Year for Environment Award. HSBC Cares is a program by HSBC Bank that recognizes community heroes. Adrienne was recognized as an HSBC customer who has made a significant contribution to protecting communities against environmental threats that imperil our air, water, and land.
Suffolk County: Change Out Your Septic System
Over the summer and fall, we have been hosting a series of forums highlighting the importance of reducing nitrogen pollution from outdated septic systems and cesspools. We will be helping residents secure grants to change out their old systems for new, on-site, nitrogen-reducing treatment systems through Suffolk County's Reclaim Our Water program. So far, we have held forums for residents of Huntington, Smithtown, Centereach, Cold Spring Harbor, and Riverhead and have received a great response. Our next forum is at East Northport Public Library on November 29, and we hope to see you there!