Highlights and Happenings: February 2019
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Victory! NYS Senate and Assembly Pass Offshore Drilling Ban, Menhaden Protection Bill
CCE joined Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Senator Kaminsky and Assemblyman Englebright in support of two critical bills; one banning offshore oil and gas drilling in New York’s waters, and another protecting Menhaden (bunker fish), the fish that whales rely on for a primary food supply. These bills have passed the Senate and Assembly and we are looking forward to Governor Cuomo signing them into law. We thank the Senate and Assembly champions for their commitment to defending NY’s ocean and wildlife.
Victory! Long Island Sound Federal Funding Reaches Record $14.6 Million; Great Lakes Fully Funded at $300 million
Congress has passed an appropriations bill funding the Long Island Sound at a record $14 million, plus an addition $600,000 through the National Estuary Program! This is not only a much-needed $2 million increase over last year’s funding but also comes after President Trump proposed to completely defund the Long Island Sound program in his 2019 budget. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was once again funded at $300 million, allowing efforts to clean up toxic hot spots, restore habitat, and fight invasive species to continue. A huge thank you to our House and Senate champions who stood with the public and stakeholders and fought for this critical funding.
Victory! CT Fighting Back Against Plastic Pollution
The Hamden Legislative Town Council has voted yes to a ban on single-use plastic bags and to ban plastic straws at food service establishments throughout town! This makes Hamden the most recent in a growing list of Connecticut municipalities taking action to curb pollution from single use plastics and make the switch to reusable products.
On the state level, we attended a BYOBag press conference at Compo Beach in Westport with Surfrider, BYOCT, the CT Food Association and a bi-partisan group of Legislators including Rep. Steinberg, Rep. Lavielle, Rep. Michel, Senator Haskell and Senator Hwang . This event marked the historic 10 year anniversary of the Westport plastic bag ban and highlighted this year’s push for statewide bag ban.
CCE Heads to Albany
CCE has been hard at work lobbing our state legislators to pass our budget and legislative priorities for 2019. We joined our partners in the fight for clean air and water in a series of lobby days this February:
Environmental Protection Fund Lobby Day: For the past 26 years the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) has invested billions in projects that protect clean water, conserve open space, save family farms, protect our oceans and Great Lakes, and much more. Governor Cuomo included $300 million for the EPF in this year’s Executive Budget. CCE joined our coalition partners in Albany to urge our elected leaders to ensure at least $300 million for the EPF in the final state budget.
Clean Water Day: A broad coalition of organizations made up of water suppliers, waste water treatment operators, government agencies, environmental organizations, academia, construction contractors and other water stakeholders came together in Albany for our Clean Water Coalition Breakfast. After breakfast, we met with legislators from Buffalo to Montauk to discuss the immense clean water needs of New York.
Oceans and Great Lakes Lobby Day: CCE joined the New York Ocean and Great Lakes Coalition to request $17.25 million for the Ocean and Great Lakes Program as part of a $300 million Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The funding goes toward various initiatives to protect our ocean and Great Lakes, including whale and turtle monitoring programs, ocean acidification research, and resiliency initiatives along the Great Lakes coast.
Pushing our CT Legislative Priorities for 2019
In early February, we testified Connecticut General Assembly Environment Committee in support of bills to permanently ban hazardous fracking waste, require gas companies to limit methane gas leaks, and prohibit the release of helium balloons. Later in the month, CCE’s Louis Burch participated in a legislative panel discussion at the CT Recyclers Conference in Plantsville, CT. We highlighted some of our key solid waste reduction goals, including eliminating plastic bags, expanding the Bottle Bill (include a deposit on additional beverage containers), and implementing curbside food waste collection.
Fighting for Federal Regulation of PFOA and PFOS
We joined U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer for a press conference at our Farmingdale office to call on the EPA to regulate PFOA and PFOS, two possible carcinogens that have been found in drinking water supplies throughout the state. While NYS has recommended strict drinking water standards for these contaminants, it is critical that the federal government act to ensure the public is protected from these emerging contaminants. You can watch the press conference here.
NY Must Take Action to Fight Climate Change
The NYS Senate held a series of public hearings on the Climate and Community Protection Act, which aims to codify aggressive carbon reduction and renewable energy targets into law, ensure a just transition to renewable energy for workers and communities, and protect vulnerable coastal communities. CCE testified on Long Island, highlighting the necessity of offshore wind, large scale solar projects, and the importance of closing our outdated fossil fuel plants. Watch CCE’s Adrienne Esposito testify here. We also testified in Syracuse, focusing on how climate change impacts the frequency and severity of harmful algal blooms, contributes to the proliferation of mosquitoes and other disease-bearing insects, and puts additional stress on farmers, their crops and livestock.
Central NY: Heat Your Home Without Fossil Fuels
We are an active member of the HeatSmart CNY campaign, which has been working to help CNY residents and businesses install modern, clean geothermal systems. HeatSmart CNY is a grassroots community initiative to support residents and businesses in exploring ways to improve the efficiency of their buildings, including air source, ground source, and hot water heat pump technologies. To learn more about geothermal technologies, join us at upcoming HeatSmart events. If you own a home or business in Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, or Oswego Counties, you can sign up for a free, no obligation energy assessment!
Addressing New York’s Solid Waste Crisis
At the local, state, national level—we are all experiencing a solid waste and recycling crisis. We are facing waste challenges across NYS, but we also have chance for new opportunities; a chance for new solutions, new policies, and a renewed focus on reducing our waste stream and making our communities more sustainable. CCE staff participated in the NYS DEC’s Solid Waste Management Plan stakeholder meetings to develop a new vision for handling the state’s waste. We stressed the need for increased education to “Recycle Right (only recycle what is actually recyclable!), an expanded and modernized the Bottle Bill (to include a deposit on additional beverage containers), banning plastic bags (with a fee on paper), a program to utilize extra food from large food generators (e.g. restaurants, supermarkets, institutions) for composting, anaerobic digestion, and to feed the hungry.
Suffolk County: Change Out Your Septic System
Throughout 2018 we hosted 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. We continued the series in 2019 with presentations in Holbrook, Port Jefferson, and Port Jefferson Station. Our March presentations will be at Bayport-Blue Point Library on March 7 at 7pm and at Connetquot Public Library on March 19 at 7:00pm. We hope to see you there!