CCE in the News

(Public News Service): Great Lakes Presidential Platform

Extreme weather due to climate change can exacerbate pollution runoff and toxic algal blooms in the Great Lakes.

Extreme weather due to climate change can exacerbate pollution runoff and toxic algal blooms in the Great Lakes.

July 25, 2019

NEW YORK – A coalition of more than 160 local, state and national environmental groups is asking every presidential candidate how he or she will address threats to drinking water supplies for more than 30 million people.

The Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition has released a presidential platform to restore and protect lakes and drinking water for people in New York and seven other states.

According to Brian Smith, associate executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the federally funded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has made considerable progress since it was launched 10 years ago, but there still is a lot of work to do.

"We still have toxic hotspots that linger in parts of the Great Lakes,” he points out. “We have beaches that are closed due to high bacteria levels, and we have invasive species that threaten our fishing industry."

The Coalition's five-point platform has been distributed to major party candidates in advance of the next president debate being held in Detroit next week.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump proposed cutting funding for the initiative by 90% to just $30 million, but then announced his support for $300 million in funding.

Kyle Rorah, acting director of public policy for the group Ducks Unlimited, says that's not enough.

"The Healing Our Waters Coalition is asking candidates who support the Great Lakes to restore funding for the GLRI at the $475 million level, as it was in its initial fiscal year of 2010," he states.

Over the past 10 years, the initiative has invested more than $2.4 billion in more than 4,700 projects throughout the region.

Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters Coalition, adds that without healthy water Americans cannot have healthy families, healthy communities or healthy economies, so clean drinking water needs to be a top issue in the presidential campaign.

"Every candidate has the responsibility and the moral obligation to explain how they will put an end to toxic water pollution, and how they will clean up drinking water sources like the Great Lakes, and provide clean, safe and affordable drinking water to all Americans," she stresses.

The full Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition presidential platform is online at

Disclosure: National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY

Connecticut bag ban spurs contentious food waste debate


By: Cole Rosengren

Published by:


July 11, 2019

Connecticut's newly passed bag bill marks an incremental step forward in plastic reduction efforts. It's also being described as a missed opportunity by many involved in the process.

As finalized in a budget bill recently signed by Gov. Ned Lamont, Connecticut will require retailers to charge a 10-cent fee for any "single-use checkout bag" starting Aug. 1. By July 1, 2021, all such bags will be banned entirely.

The law defines "single-use" as plastic bags less than 4 mils thick – excluding bags for meat, fish, produce, newspapers and dry cleaning. The dozen-plus municipalities that already have their own policies in place will be allowed to keep them, and others can still pass stricter ordinances.

Environmental groups wanted to see paper bags included as well, while companies in the organics world pushed for compostable bags to be exempted entirely. The final version has resulted in a universally palatable stalemate of sorts, but tension remains after a heated legislative process.

Path to the ban

“We've been advocating for a ban on plastic checkout bags with a charge on paper bags, with the end goal of obviously producing a policy that promotes reusable bag use," said Lou Burch, state program director for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE). "This law does not do that. However, we do think it’s a good step in the right direction."

CCE, Surfrider Foundation and the Connecticut Food Association originally pushed a bill that went much further than what has now been enacted, or even what preceded it.

The legislature's favored bag bill, passed out of the General Assembly's environment committee in April, would have banned single-use bags made of "plastic, paper or other material" by 2020. Paper bags would be allowed if they were deemed 100% recyclable, made from 40% post-consumer recycled content and included the phrase "Please Reuse and Recycle This Bag."

This open-ended language raised the alarm for two companies with Connecticut interests — Novamont, an Italian bioplastics company and Quantum Biopower, owner of the state's first anaerobic digester.

The two have been ongoing partners in an effort to expand organics processing in Connecticut. Quantum is actively looking for ways to attract residential tonnage, and Novamont saw an opportunity to expand market share for bags to line those hypothetical curbside carts.

In fact, Novamont told Waste Dive it was actively pursuing plans to build a new manufacturing facility in the state.

"I thought, why couldn't we make Connecticut the model in North America that Milan is to the whole globe and have food scrap collection and have anaerobic digestion and have [compostable] T-sacks in all the stores and curbside collection?" said Dan Martens, vice president of Novamont's North American operations.

According to Martens, the state's Department of Economic and Community Development was favorable to the idea and asked what it could do to help. Martens mentioned the bag issue.

When the governor's budget bill — which included the milder bag ban language that eventually passed — came out in early June, it contained a key new provision: an exemption for compostable bags.

Fearing this could result in essentially a one-for-one switch from thin plastic to compostable bags at grocery stores, environmental groups pushed back hard.

Melissa Gates, Northeast regional manager for Surfrider, described the language as "alarming" and "a terrible precedent to set this early in the game."

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The ensuing back-and-forth public debate — featuring 5 Gyres literature around performance standards of various bags, Novamont-backed literature decrying a "nasty campaign" to ban the bags and plenty of other claims in between — didn't last long.

Late in the budget amendment process, the compostable exemption language was stripped from the bill. While compostable bags are not banned, they're not encouraged.

Food waste fallout

In the aftermath, it wasn't immediately clear whether environmental groups were just concerned about the bags entering grocery stores or if they also didn't want to see them used as cart liners.

Quantum, which continues to eye expansion options even though a bill to pilot residential programs failed to pass this session, stands by the bags.

“[W]hen we look at where the successful diversion programs were taking place in the state and outside of the state, almost all of them were built around a fundamental tool — which was a compostable bag," said Quantum Vice President Brian Paganini. "Obviously, limiting exposure to plastic is important on many levels — certainly for the environmental impacts that we all know of — but I think the part that didn't make it into the conversation fully was the impact on food waste diversion."

Burch said CCE never had any issues with potentially using the bags as liners for food waste collection. He even considered language in the residential pilot bill favoring bags as cart liners "reasonable."

"But to suggest that we're going to make compostable bags exempt from the ban and exempt from the charge and we're going to offer them at the checkout counter — in the hopes that bag is going to find its way to an anaerobic digester — is just completely inappropriate," he said. "It completely undermines everything that thousands of citizens activists across the state have been working on for years — and that is to make single-use checkout bags a thing of the past."

Gates said she didn't currently see a role for liners of any kind in organics collection carts until infrastructure is in place to ensure they're safely handled. Her overriding concern is also about bags taking over in grocery stores.

Surfrider remains opposed to substituting products of any kind with new material — compostable or otherwise.

"We steer away from any single-use product because part of the issue is the consumer paradigm," she said.

Reflecting on next steps, Martens declined to confirm whether Novamont would still be pursuing plans for a new facility in the Connecticut. He stood by his products, maintaining that they're considered viable in many cities — either as bags in stores where plastic is banned, or for use in curbside organics carts.

Examples cited include BostonSeattlePalo Alto and San Francisco, California, as well as multiple European cities.

"We see our products not as a replacement for plastics but as a tool to facilitate food scrap diversion," said Martens, going on to criticize "shortsighted" efforts that might limit Connecticut's organics potential. "If you cut the tools out of the beginning, you kind of cut your nose off to spite your face — but they don't really see that far."

Interest in organics diversion remains high for many stakeholders in Connecticut, but this particular compostability discussion is expected to quiet down for the time being.

Still, it's just the latest in a series of examples of why assumptions about consumer behavior, vested manufacturing interests and state-specific political factors make passing any type of packaging legislation so challenging

Nassau County Executive Curran Signs Styrofoam Ban into Law


Nassau County Executive Curran Signs Styrofoam Ban into Law

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran signed into law a ban on the sale and distribution of polystyrene foam containers (better known by the brand name Styrofoam) in Nassau County. County Executive Curran, joined by local officials and environmental advocates, signed the legislation into law at Jeremy’s Ale House, a staple on the Nautical Mile famous for their use of Styrofoam cups.

Last month, the Nassau County Legislature voted unanimously to adopt the legislation co-sponsored by Legislators Debra Mule (D-Freeport), Denise Ford (R-Long Beach), and Laura Schaefer (R-Garden City).

“Today, Nassau County is taking a big step towards the future,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “Non-biodegradable polystyrene can’t be recycled like most products. So, while that coffee may be finished, the Styrofoam cup that was holding it won’t be. It will break down into small pieces – clogging our waterways, polluting our environment, hurting our wildlife, and even damaging local industries like fishing and tourism. We only have one Long Island – we must protect it.”

“Toxic, non-biodegradable Styrofoam devastates the waterways we cherish. I’m proud to stand with County Executive Curran and my colleagues as a co-sponsor this important bipartisan environmental initiative, “said Legislator Debra Mulé (D - Freeport.) “I am hopeful that today’s action reflects a major step forward in our efforts to encourage Nassau County residents to move beyond wasteful single-use products and embrace sustainable alternatives.”

"I was proud to join my colleagues in voting unanimously to approve legislation I co-sponsored banning polystyrene products in Nassau County, and am excited to see it signed into law,” said Legislator Denise Ford (R- Long Beach). “This will not only reduce the waste stream in Nassau County and provide reductions in waste disposal costs, it will also help unclog our waterways and better protect our natural environment."

“We’ve heard about the dangers of polystyrene foam for years now, and I am happy we are finally taking action,” said Legislator Laura Schaefer (R-Garden City). “These containers pollute our environment and clog our waterways. Enough is enough. This is an important step for a cleaner and healthier Nassau County.”

“Big problems need bold action,” Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “Styrofoam is littering our communities, beaches, and bays. Containers meant to transport food and beverages leach toxic styrene. Kudus to Nassau County for stepping up to tackle this pollution and public health concern by banning Styrofoam take-out containers, cups and plates.  Making the switch to more sustainable options is good for our environment and our health.”

Polystyrene foam – better known by its brand name Styrofoam – has been classified as a carcinogen, and in most cases is completely non-biodegradable. After breaking into small pieces, it becomes harder to clean up and its composition of fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals helps trigger serious hazardous waste and environmental damage, including killing marine life that consumes it.

On Long Island, it has been known to clog waterways and dramatically increase the cost of waste disposal for authorities. There is no practical method for recycling polystyrene foam, and incineration results in toxic fumes being released into the environment.

Businesses in Nassau County will have until January 1, 2020 to use up their existing reserve of polystyrene foam containers before the ban takes place. After that date, any business violating the law will be given fines from the Office of Consumer Affairs. The fines for first offense are up to $500, second offenses up to $1,000, and third and subsequent offenses up to $2,500. The money from those funds will provide for environmental investigation and cleanup of Nassau County properties.

Wind Farm Cable Landing Debated


Wind Farm Cable Landing Debated

Residents of Wainscott and Sierra Club activists were the most vocal of attendees at public hearings June 11 on the cable connection for the South Fork Wind Farm, a 15-turbine project proposed 35 miles off the coast of Montauk.

The original developers, Deepwater Wind, now a partnership between Danish energy company Ørsted and New England power distributor Eversource, are planning to connect the power from the wind farm to the electric grid at a Long Island Power Authority substation just east of East Hampton Village. 

The developers’ proposal to bring the cable ashore at Beach Lane in Wainscott has raised the hackles of neighbors of the proposed route, who are pushing for an alternate landing site at Hither Hills State Park in Napeague.

The on-land route from Beach Lane to the substation is about 4 miles and could be completed in one off-season between Labor Day and Memorial Day, while the 12-mile route from Hither Hills would take two seasons, said representatives from Ørsted at the hearing.

The two hearings, with one afternoon and one evening session, were part of the New York State Public Service Commission’s Article VII approval process, which covers the portion of the route within state waters up to three miles offshore, and the on-land portion of the cable route. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will handle the permitting requirements for the actual wind farm, which is in federal waters.

Many residents of Wainscott spoke at the hearing, saying they are unconvinced that the construction will not disturb their use of the beach and the country roads in Wainscott, and urging the developers to chose the Hither Hills site.

Brandon Cook spoke of the “iconic beach and farm community” where his two young children play on the beach. He advocated for the Hither Hills site, and added that people in Wainscott rely on rental income from their houses, and asked if they would be compensated if they couldn’t rent their houses due to the work.

Simon Kinsella, who has been a vocal opponent of the Beach Lane landing site, works as a financial auditor. He said he believes the cost of the project has been underestimated by about one sixth of the actual cost and is “possibly the largest capital works project ever undertook on the East End of Long Island.”

He added that the public should be told the pricing details of Deepwater/Ørsted’s power purchase agreement from LIPA, which have been kept secret.

“Deepwater is corrupting and manipulating the process by denying the public the pricing information,” he said, adding that he may initiate a lawsuit to force New York State to disclose the pricing information.

Jonathan Stern said that there are “a significant number of residential dwellings” along the Wainscott route, while he said there were zero residential dwelling along the Hither Hills route. He added that the Wainscott route is in a FEMA-designated floodplain, with “New York State certified agricultural district lands with active working farms.”

Marshall Gluck of Wainscott said he enjoys driving around seeing the farmland in Wainscott.

“Luckily there is an alternative, and a very viable alternative,” he said, urging the use of the Hither Hills site.

Mary Anne Lindbergh of Wainscott said that “climate change influences my actions and thoughts multiple times a day,” but added that she is concerned by news of a cable from Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm was exposed on the beach there.

Representatives from Deepwater/Ørsted said they are using a different cable-laying method for the South Fork Wind Farm, 30 feet below ground, that would not be in danger of being exposed on the beach.

Frank Dalene, who serves on the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee and East Hampton Town’s Energy Sustainability Committee, said that the Wainscott CAC “fully supported offshore wind up until the day the cable might come ashore at Wainscott.”

“One member said ‘I know it’s NIMBYism. So what,” he said. “

Mr. Dalene added that after contamination with perfluorinated chemicals was found in some wells in Wainscott, no one complained when East Hampton Town and the Suffolk County Water Authority dug up roads all over Wainscott to install new public water mains, including one on Beach Lane.

“The height of hypocrisy is astounding,” he said. 

Don Mattheisen laid out several recent dire reports on climate change about the urgency of reducing carbon emissions.

“That’s not local idiot Don Mattheisen saying that. It’s the 600 scientists of the International Panel on Climate Change, who looked at 6,000 studies evaluated by their peers,” he said. “We’re standing at the rail of a sinking ship in our tuxedos, looking at the lifeboat and saying ‘does it have a bathroom? Does it have an outboard motor? Can I take my suitcase? It’s time to stop dithering and build this thing.”

Several young Sierra Club activists also spoke — they’d gathered for a rally at the Hook Mill windmill at the foot of North Main Street before traipsing up the street for the public hearing at the East Hampton Village Emergency Services Building.

“I’m 23 years old, so obviously I haven’t lived here for 70 years like a lot of you people, but I’d like to, eventually,” said David Bassoon. “With climate disruption, I don’t think that would be possible without making offshore wind possible.”

“The Sierra Club urges the commission to keep on schedule, get this project built and ensure robust environmental protections throughout all phases,” said Adam Heller, a volunteer for the Sierra Club in Suffolk County. “It cannot be delayed. We’re counting on it to ensure Long Island’s cleaner and better future.”

“As a millennial, I feel it is my responsibility to speak up on issues affecting myself and my generation,” said Ashley Flores. “As a Long Island resident, I have an opportunity now to set a new and high standard for clean energy.”

As she often does, Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito didn’t mince words.

“I don’t mean to be flippant, but how exactly do you think you get your electricity now?” she asked. “There are cables all over… This is not something that’s new. It’s used all over the globe to transport electrical power.”

She added that East Hampton is considering options for moving Montauk’s downtown inland to protect it from rising seas, Freeport is looking at seagates that could cost $120 million, and the federal government is buying out homeowners on low-lying land in Mastic/Shirley.

“All of those actions, all of them, are to mitigate climate change and not one of them addresses the root cause of climate change,” she said. “It’s not going to be easy, and you might have to make a sacrifice… We have one future and we’ve got to get it right, or we’re not going to have another generation that gets to live here.”

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, who is charged with implementing the town’s ambitious renewable energy goals, said the town is committed to “ensuring potential adverse impacts are comprehensively evaluated and mitigated,” and added that the town has not made any decisions yet on whether to grant the use of the town roads or the beach access for the Wainscott route.

But, on a personal note, he added, “what are you doing to reduce consumption, to add electricity to the grid? How are you being a part of the solution? We’ve created this demand that we have to fill.”

He added that he recently installed rooftop solar panels on his house, which are producing 164 percent of the power he consumes.

“So I’m covering half of one of ya,” he said. “Offshore wind is the way to meet our renewable demand. The alternatives are bleak.”

Written comments to the Commission are being accepted through July 12, referencing “Case 18-T-0604 – Deepwater,” by email to; through the website at, by searching using the case number for the “Post Comments” button, or by mail to Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary, Public Service Commission, 3 Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223-1350. 

Comments may also be left on the Commission’s opinion line at 1.800.335.2120, where they will be summarized and provided to the Commission. 

The wind farm application to the Commission can be viewed at, using the case reference number 18-T-0604, or at the East Hampton, Springs, Amagansett, or Bridgehampton Libraries. 

First Wind Farm Hearing Focuses On Wainscott, And Climate Change


First Wind Farm Hearing Focuses On Wainscott, And Climate Change

The first public hearings on the South Fork Wind Farm project brought residents from across Long Island to East Hampton on Tuesday to plead with the State Public Service Commission to make the smart choice when it comes to the Deepwater Wind proposal. 

For some, that meant for the commission to give its stamp of approval to the wind farm developer’s preferred electrical cable route—through Wainscott, and then under town roads to East Hampton—so that the 15 wind turbines can be built with as little delay or interference as possible. 

The wind farm is an important step toward reversing the effects of global warming in the United States, they said. 

But for others—mostly residents of Wainscott—it would mean the PSC finding that the power cable connecting the wind farm to land would best be brought ashore in a state park in Montauk, and not at quaint Beach Lane, in their backyards. 

Some—East Hampton Town elected officials, in particular—simply asked that, whatever the state commission decides as far as the cable route is concerned, it should ensure that the traditions, livelihoods and rights of South Fork residents are protected from unforeseen adverse impacts of the entire $1.6 billion project. 

Dozens of speakers weighed in on the project during a pair of two-hour hearing sessions on Tuesday at the Emergency Services Building in East Hampton Village, with officials from Deepwater Wind answering questions about the project and a PSC magistrate, Anthony Belsito, overseeing the proceedings. 

“We are glad for this hearing, because we will finally have someone who will decide where to land this cable, on the merits,” said John Finley, a Wainscott homeowner who has been among those spearheading a well-funded residents’ group opposing the proposed Wainscott landing site. “The residents of Wainscott only want one thing from the PSC: the best landing site.” 

For most of those aligned with Mr. Finley, the best site would be through Hither Hills State Park in Montauk, which Deepwater Wind has said is its second choice for a landing site. 

Bringing the cable ashore in one of the parking lots at the park campground would not require a major drilling operation to be set up for months near private homes, would not require small rural roads to be almost entirely ripped up as the cable is run underground once it reaches the shore, and would shorten the overall distance the cable must be buried in the sea floor by about 11 miles. 

They noted that using state parks to land undersea cables has been common practice in other projects, including the Block Island Wind Farm, also built by Deepwater Wind. 

The group of residents, calling themselves the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, say they have 1,300 supporters in their corner and were represented at Tuesday’s hearings by a team of attorneys and public relations experts with long ties to state government. 

Deepwater Wind has said that its preferred option to bring the cable from the sea floor onto land is beneath the ocean beach at the end of Beach Lane in Wainscott. Doing so would require several months of horizontal drilling, with equipment staged on narrow Beach Lane and drilling crews working around the clock at times. 

From there, the cable would run beneath two miles of town roads, which the company has said would mostly remain passable during the work. 

Officials from Ørsted U.S. Offshore, the entity that now owns Deepwater Wind, said on Tuesday that the work could be conducted over a single winter season, between November 1 and March 31, so as to not tie up summer traffic. The company has also pledged that access to the beach will never be impeded, and that roads would remain passable most of the time.

Jennifer Garvey, Long Island development manager for Deepwater Wind, said that the company had assessed the Wainscott route as not only cheaper but also less disruptive, because it would require the digging up of just two miles of lightly traveled roadways, rather than several more miles of the region’s main thoroughfare over two winter seasons. “We felt it was more beneficial to the entire community,” she said. 

Another Wainscott resident, Jonathan Stern, said the company’s interests would appear to more likely be their own. 

“The price is fixed no matter where the landing site is,” he noted, of the cost to the Long Island Power Authority to purchase power from the wind farm. “So the only one who has an economic stake in this is Deepwater, because it’s going to cost them a whole lot less.” 

Deepwater has acknowledged that the long on-land route is more expensive for them, though it has not said how much more. The Wainscott proposal, since it uses town-owned roads, would come with an approximately $8 million “community benefits” package from Deepwater that includes the company paying for infrastructure upgrades, burying power lines in scenic areas of Wainscott, and funding fisheries support programs through the East Hampton Town Trustees. 

But Katarina Mesarovich, also a Wainscott resident, said that adding the installation of the wind farm cable to the area would contribute to the “industrialization of Wainscott” and is not worth the benefits. 

“We already have the airport, there is an industrial park being proposed, and now we have this large project, in this small community,” she said. “Why would we risk our most valuable asset—the beach—for the price of one house?” 

Not all Wainscott residents sided with their neighbors in opposition to the landing site. 

Frank Dalene, a former chairman of the town’s Energy Sustainability Committee, lashed out at his neighbors for their opposition. 

“After it was announced that the cable may land on Beach Lane, there rose up in the community charlatans, purveyors of false information and fear-mongers,” Mr. Dalene said. “They … gathered a following, because the false information and fear-mongering fit the narrative of NIMBYism.” 

Michael Hansen, a member of the Waincott Citizens Advisory Committee along with Mr. Dalene, echoed that sentiment. 

“The opponents to wind power on the East End of Long Island want you to know they are for wind power, they are for renewable energy—but not now and not in my backyard,” he said, mocking opponents’ support for the project as long as the cable was elsewhere. “Wainscott is tough. We can take it. We endured [the Suffolk County Water Authority] digging up our roads to ensure clean water. We can endure one winter of digging up our roads to ensure clean energy.” 

Others characterized the debate about the landing site as pointless fretting over something of little consequence. 

“What we are doing is standing at the railing of a sinking ship, in our tuxedos, asking, ‘Is there a bathroom in the lifeboat?” said Don Matheson, imploring the PSC to “stop listening to whiners who are in search of a perfect solution that doesn’t exist.

“It’s time to stop dithering and build this thing,” he said. 

Deepwater Wind South Fork LLC is seeking to build 15 turbines in the ocean about 35 miles southeast of Montauk in an area known as Cox Ledge. The wind farm would be connected to the South Fork by a 50-mile-long undersea power cable, 12 inches in diameter, which will come ashore at whichever site is ultimately decided on and then run underground to the LIPA substation near Buell Lane in East Hampton. The substation will undergo a substantial expansion to accept the cable. 

To win permission for the project, Deepwater has to navigate a two-pronged review: with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management assessing the designs of the wind farm itself, which will stand in federal waters, and with the state PSC holding sway over the route the power cable will follow into New York State waters and on land. The federal review process has yet to move into the public hearing phase. 

Deepwater-Ørsted officials have said they hope to have the permits in place by the end of 2020 so that construction can begin in 2021 and the wind farm can go online in 2022. 

While the 15 turbines will constitute their own project, Ørsted and its partner, New England energy company Eversource, have dozens more turbines planned for construction in their wind lease area to send power to Rhode Island and Connecticut. Other companies have projects in the pipeline as well, and more than 200 turbines could be spinning in the waters between Montauk and Nantucket by 2025, with hundreds more planned for the New York Bight. 

Fishermen have proven to be the main objectors to the wind farm in general and the ultimate scale of development proposed, with fears that the noise of the turbines or electromagnetic fields from the power lines could alter historic fish migration patterns and destroy traditional fisheries. 

East Hampton Town Trustee Rick Drew asked the PSC on Tuesday to help ensure that fishermen are protected. 

“We as a board have represented the rights of our community pertaining to fishing rights, access to our common lands and beaches and other rights … for over 350 years,” he said. 

On behalf of the Trustees, he laid out a collection of additional protections that the Trustees would like to see imposed on, and paid for by, Deepwater conditional to any approvals: an independent engineering review of the construction plan, establishment of a performance bond to ensure issues with the installation of the cable under the beaches are addressed, continual monitoring of electromagnetic fields on the beach where the cable lands and a specific study of the effects of EMF emissions on striped bass and the baitfish they feed on. Mr. Drew also said that the community benefits package offered by Deepwater if it uses the Wainscott site should be valid regardless of where the cable lands in East Hampton Town. 

For many of the speakers on Tuesday, however, the project’s long-term benefits outweighed any concerns about local worries. The Sierra Club mustered dozens of young Long Islanders to come and offer their support for wind power as the most important arrow in the quiver for rolling back the causes of global warming. 

“The time is nigh to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy,” said Danny Morgan. “East Hampton has a great opportunity to set that standard. The answer is literally blowing in the wind.” 

Adrienne Esposito, of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, spoke directly to those concerned that the drilling in their neighborhoods would be disruptive and nodded to the billions of dollars being spent across Long Island to protect against rising sea levels.

“All of those are mitigating climate change, but not one of them is addressing the problem,” she said. “It’s not going to be easy, and you might have to make a sacrifice. We’re in this together—it’s one island, one fight, and we’ve got to get it right or we’re not going to get another generation who gets to live here.”

Wind power in the forecast for New York


Wind power in the forecast for New York

The weathervane is pointing to Thursday for the big announcement from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on the state’s first round of major offshore wind farm awards — assuming the off-and-on event doesn’t get canceled again.

And figure on it taking place in Manhattan, to lure the national media the governor seeks for the occasion.

At stake: At least 800 megawatts (or more) of wind energy awarded to two (or more) of the four proposals before the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Meanwhile, a smaller project further along in the pipeline — a 130-megawatt farm off Montauk from Danish giant Orsted, which has a power-supply contract from LIPA — is facing opposition in East Hampton Town and especially in Wainscott, where the cable would come ashore. Permits still are needed.

Two hearings in East Hampton on Tuesday hosted by the Public Service Commission drew dueling marches, rallies and testimony from supporters and opponents — though some wind fans who might have attended instead joined a demonstration in Albany in favor of climate change legislation. It’s a busy time for NY’s environmental advocates.

Even though three of the four large-project proposals Cuomo will announce are also for ocean areas off the East End, the current battle might not be a dress rehearsal for approvals to come. That’s because the power they generate likely would come ashore much further west than East Hampton. One likely site would be under Jones Beach, where the cable would parallel the existing Neptune cable up the Wantagh Parkway before veering off and plugging into an existing substation in Melville on Ruland Road. The same scenario could work for a wind farm pitched for the New York Bight, 14 or so miles off Nassau County, which also has two logical landing spots in Brooklyn.

Then again, wind advocates say Tuesday’s competing press events might be repeated in the next go-round.

“You never know what people are going to be opposed to,” Citizens Campaign for the Environmentm executive director Adrienne Esposito told The Point. “We don’t know what communities are going to come up with.”

Nassau County Approves Ban On Styrofoam Containers 


Nassau County Approves Ban On Styrofoam Containers 

The ban, which goes into effect in January, will make it illegal to sell Styrofoam in the county. Businesses will be fined if they do.


Nassau County Executive Laura Curran signed a law today that bans the sale and distribution of Styrofoam containers in the county.

"Today, Nassau County is taking a big step towards the future," Curran said. "Non-biodegradable polystyrene can't be recycled like most products. So, while that coffee may be finished, the Styrofoam cup that was holding it won't be. It will break down into small pieces – clogging our waterways, polluting our environment, hurting our wildlife and even damaging local industries like fishing and tourism. We only have one Long Island – we must protect it."

Polystyrene foam – better known by its brand name Styrofoam – has been classified as a carcinogen, and in most cases is completely non-biodegradable. After breaking into small pieces, it becomes harder to clean up and its composition of fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals can cause environmental damage, including killing marine life that consumes it.

On Long Island, it has been known to clog waterways and dramatically increase the cost of waste disposal for municipalities. There is no practical method for recycling polystyrene foam, and incinerating it releases toxic fumes.

Businesses in Nassau will have until Jan. 1, 2020 to use up their existing Styrofoam containers before the ban takes place. After that, any business violating the law will be fined $500 for a first offense, up to $1,000 for a second offense and up to $2,500 for every subsequent offense. The money from those funds will provide for environmental investigation and cleanup of Nassau County properties.

"Big problems need bold action," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "Styrofoam is littering our communities, beaches and bays. Containers meant to transport food and beverages leach toxic styrene. Kudus to Nassau County for stepping up to tackle this pollution and public health concern by banning Styrofoam take-out containers, cups and plates. Making the switch to more sustainable options is good for our environment and our health."

After 18 Years, Connecticut Finally Has A State Water Plan


After 18 Years, Connecticut Finally Has A State Water Plan

State Representative Mary Mushinsky (D-Wallingford) has been seeking creation and adoption of a State Water Plan since 2001.

By News Desk, News Partner | Jun 10, 2019

From CT General Assembly:The legislature on June 5, 2019 finally ratified the State Water Plan, a technical and policy document four years in the making and 18 years in the planning since the legislature first required a water plan in 2001.

According to the CT Dept. of Public Health, the State Water Plan lays out a framework for managing Connecticut's water into the future and for achieving balance with human and environmental needs as climate trends emerge and new needs develop. It addresses the quality and quantity of water for drinking, ecology, recreation, business, industry, agriculture, energy, and wastewater assimilation.

State Representative Mary Mushinsky (D-Wallingford) has been seeking creation and adoption of a State Water Plan since 2001.

"We have had numerous warnings of the fragility of our water resources, including drying up of rivers such as the Fenton at UConn and the Shepaug in northwest CT," Rep. Mushinsky said. "It was clear to me that the state needed to apply science and conservation to this challenge to ensure we have sufficient clean water for all the state's needs well into the future."

The legislature established the Water Planning Council (WPC) in 2001 to bring together multiple state agencies that had jurisdiction over water. Rep. Mushinsky said one significant roadblock to water management was the separation of water regulation among multiple state agencies, which the Council was designed to solve.

Following a new threat to another state river, the Farmington, legislators passed Public Act 14-163, directing the WPC to create the plan that would help planners, regulators, and lawmakers make decisions about managing Connecticut's water in a manner that is consistent throughout the state.

"Until we gave them funding to do the analysis, the plan wasn't moving," Rep. Mushinsky said. The completed plan reflects the input of various stakeholders, committee members and public participants. The council held public hearings on the draft plan across the state in 2017.

The Council presented a final document to the Governor and legislative committees in 2018. Mushinsky said the phrase "water is a public trust" in the plan caused some disagreement and a one year delay in legislative approval. In 2019, legislators with the help of attorneys in Gov. Lamont's staff crafted language to make clear the statutes decide any perceived conflict between the plan and the statutes.

The WPC is comprised of four members: John W. Betkoski (Chair), Vice Chairman, Public Utilities Regulatory Authority; Garrett Eucalitto, Undersecretary, Office of Policy and Management; Betsey Wingfield, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; and Lori Mathieu, Drinking Water Section Chief, Department of Public Health.

Mushinsky, who worked with colleagues including State Representatives John Hampton (D-Simsbury), Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport) and State Senator Mary Abrams (D-Meriden), and clean water groups including Rivers Alliance, CT Fund for the Environment and Citizens Campaign for the Environment to pass the plan, said Connecticut now joins a small number of states in the U. S. with science-based water plans.


America at the crossroads: What LIers think of our future


America at the crossroads: What LIers think of our future

Matthew Elgut prays that future generations will be better off than his — but doesn't think it's likely.

The 45-year-old Shoreham father of two says the threats of climate change and a possible mass extinction of species are a key reason for his worry.

"If we fail to act soon I fear we will fail our children and the world we leave them will be but a shell of what once existed," he said.

Still, Elgut said he's not sure whether he's optimistic or pessimistic about the United States' future.

That mix is reflected in a recently released Pew Research Center survey which found that 56 percent of Americans said they are somewhat or very optimistic about the country in 2050. But Americans were pessimistic about key parts of our future, with majorities predicting "the economy will be weaker, health care will be less affordable" — and 59 percent saying the environment will be worse.

"I don't think that's pessimism but rather realism. The truth is our environment will get worse before it gets better," said Adrienne Esposito, the Farmingdale-based executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

"We are on the verge of transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, advancing promising technologies including battery storage and geothermal, and building strong public support to usher in these changes. It will take a little time but we will get there."

The future of our environment is affecting major decisions today for some Long Islanders. Jessica Morgan, 31, a Sound Beach resident, said climate change is top of mind as she and her partner save for a house.

"It's very real that sea levels are rising. The landscape of Long Island is going to change. Do we invest here for a 30-year mortgage?" Morgan asked.  

The social worker said she tries to practice "active hopefulness," and do everything she can to ensure her future, Long Island's and her community's.

Chris Jones, 65, senior vice president and chief planner of the Regional Plan Association, said what comes through very clearly in the Pew numbers "is just how much more pessimistic we've become as a society. And I think that's particularly striking for a lot of suburban areas, and particularly Long Island, that really developed on this surge of optimism about the future."

"It's largely consistent with previous polling that's been done on Long Island. And there certainly are a lot of trends that explain why some of these attitudes are changing at this point," he said. "We've certainly come through a fairly extensive period where incomes have not grown that much."

"It's interesting that people seem bipolar on this," former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said about the Pew study.

"On the one hand, they have hope, but on the other hand when they look at specific items, it's very depressing. We're really at a crossroads, on the local level and nationally," said Levy, 59, a Republican from Bayport.

"And what we do policy-wise, and culturally, over the next several years will point us either in a direction of maintaining a traditional status as a productive nation, or we go down the path of the European socialistic entitlement type of nation."

For Levy, the vibrant economy he attributes to President Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts shows "the policies that you adopt make all the difference in the world."

Noret Bazemore, 47, is concerned about isolation and social awkwardness with "online everything taking over every aspect of our lives."

"Kids are not learning on their own how to develop relationships with each other, which means they'll grow into adults that don't know how to develop relationships with each other," said the custom cake designer from Freeport.

She wants her three sons to be as self-sufficient as possible with life skills like doing laundry, chores and cooking. She explained how her 8-year-old and 10-year-old made breakfast the day before.

"They're taking the initiative to do these things. And these are the men that I want them to be. Feeling very capable and empowered, where they know they can take care of things," Bazemore said. "And I'm not finding that within my peer group. A lot of the moms, they do everything for the kid."

Elgut's concerns are big picture and fundamental. He says he worries about "what's becoming of this country, what can be done still to mitigate some of the unfortunate events that have taken place, and how we can get back to what seemed like normal," the registered nurse said. "The lack of interest in a good portion of this country to accept science is just baffling to me."

But, Elgut said, "If we could somehow for the greater good come together as a country, I really do think that we have tremendous tools with technology and perseverance to at least, at the very least, mitigate some of the worst possibilities that may occur" environmentally.

Esposito sees the environment as a bipartisan issue that affects public policy and quality of life.

"I have great faith in the public to be engaged and to fight this battle with us," the Patchogue resident said, adding this: "If you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel, you're doomed to be in perpetual darkness."

Court Puts Hold on Sand Land Mine Expansion


Court Puts Hold on Sand Land Mine Expansion

A coalition of local civic groups, neighbors, nonprofit organizations, and government officials was successful Friday in obtaining a preliminary injunction against the Sand Land mine in Noyac that puts expanded mining on hold.

Acting New York State Supreme Court Justice James H. Ferreira granted the injunction and said the petitioners, including the Noyac Civic Council, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Group for the East End, Southampton Town, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., and others, showed evidence “sufficient to demonstrate that there is a danger of irreparable harm” if mining is allowed to widen and deepen at Sand Land. According to Justice Ferreira’s decision, Sand Land has denied as much, but has “failed to demonstrate how they will be harmed or prejudiced if the injunction is granted” with respect to the expanded mining area in question.

“This is a major victory for the environment, our drinking water, and the community at large,” Mr. Thiele said in a statement Monday. “This will permit the neighbors, the civics, and elected officials to make the case to the court that the expansion of this mine is an illegal threat to the environment without fear of additional harm to our drinking water.”

Neither John Tintle, owner of Sand Land, nor Brian E. Matthews, the attorney representing the mine, could be reached for comment by press time this week.

The court challenge stemmed from a decision in March by the State Department of Environmental Conservation that would allow Sand Land to expand its mine across about three more acres, and dig 40 feet deeper than its previous permit allowed. That decision was part of a settlement that would also allow the mine to operate for eight more years before it would have to begin land reclamation efforts over a 10-year span. The agreement also established a groundwater-monitoring program.

The expanded mining area in question has been dubbed the “stump dump,” a former disposal area for vegetative organic waste, which Sand Land’s opponents claim could pose a severe threat to the environment. According to court documents, the D.E.C. settlement included the three-acre stump dump in Sand Land’s “mined land use plan.” It had not been included in previous plans or permits.

Sand Land’s opponents tapped Dr. Stuart Z. Cohen, an organic chemist and groundwater expert, who analyzed previous groundwater testing results that found significant evidence of pollution. He provided a written affidavit testifying that mining the stump dump would likely further contaminate groundwater in the area.

Dr. Cohen also wrote that “excavating the bottom of the pit deeper will be conducive to increased water flow . . . thus mining activity in this area is likely to result in a funnel effect of the contaminants, essentially increasing the speed at which they enter the aquifer.”

The Article 78 complaint against Sand Land, owned by Sand Land Corporation and Wainscott Sand and Gravel, also targeted the D.E.C., with the goal of forcing it to stop processing Sand Land’s mining permit application. However, Justice Ferreira did not order the D.E.C. to push pause on the application.

According to Mr. Thiele, the D.E.C.’s settlement with Sand Land in March was a reversal of its previous directive in September 2018 to close the mine. He called for the D.E.C. to reconsider its settlement.

“They need to be on the side of the public, not the polluter,” Mr. Thiele said. “We desire nothing more than to protect our drinking water. That should also be the mission of the state D.E.C. The public should be heard. No permit should be granted for expansion. The mine should be closed.”

The D.E.C. issued a statement Tuesday saying it could not comment on pending litigation, but said, “Our comprehensive settlement has put this facility on the path to closure and secured the most stringent and aggressive oversight and protection of water quality over any facility of its kind in New York State. D.E.C. will continue to be a regular presence on the site and will take immediate action if any violations are found.”

Elena Loreto, president of the Noyac Civic Council, called Justice Ferreira’s decision “wonderful.”

“It’s about time a judge opened up his eyes and looked at what was really going on,” she said Tuesday. “I think it’s a huge win for us.”

The Noyac Civic Council recently sent the D.E.C. a petition with 757 signatures opposing the settlement and calling for a public hearing, but Ms. Loreto said they have not heard back.

“We’re in limbo,” she said. “We have many questions, and we want answers.”

Single-use plastic bag fee included in new state budget


Single-use plastic bag fee included in new state budget


HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- With the new budget passed by the General Assembly, shoppers will see a $0.10 fee on single-use plastic bags at checkout.

The fee will go into effect this July, and was included in the two-year budget approved by lawmakers this week.

After July 1, 2021, a ban on plastic bags will be implemented.

Once that happens, no retail or grocery store will be permitted to distribute single-use plastic bags at checkout.

The bill will also allow municipalities with existing bag ordinances to keep their bans.

It also allows towns to establish their own fee on paper checkout bags.

Connecticut is the third state in the country to implement a law like this. California and New York already have.

In a statement, Citizens Campaign for the Environment said they applaud CT lawmakers for taking action on plastic pollution.

“CT has an obligation to be protectors of the Long Island Sound and this bill advances that critical objective. Congratulations Connecticut! You have proven yourself once again to be a leader on fighting plastic pollution in our oceans and estuaries. This law gives consumers and businesses alike the time they need to make the switch, and the “opt-in” provision allows municipalities to promote reusable bag use by establishing their own charge on paper bags. This policy is a common sense-approach towards reducing plastic pollution in our environment, saving taxpayers money and more sustainable consumer behavior-Bringing Your Own Bag. We are thrilled that Connecticut has joined the “bag ban wagon,” CCE said.

A win on plastic bags for environmentalists; not so on bottles, plastic straws

A win on plastic bags for environmentalists; not so on bottles, plastic straws

by Kathleen Megan and Maya Moore

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and Rep. David Michel talking about the plastic bags language.

Customers who fail to grab their reusable shopping bags before heading to the store have two more years to perfect new habits before plastic bags are banned in Connecticut, but in the meantime they will pay a 10-cent tax on every plastic bag they take home.

The tax – and the eventual ban on single-use plastic bags – were approved as part an amendment to the state budget bill passed Monday night in the House of Representatives and approved Tuesday by the Senate. If signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont, the tax would go into effect Aug. 1, while the ban would begin July 1, 2021.

The tax is expected to raise $30.2 million in fiscal year 2020 and $26.8 million in 2021 for the state’s coffers.

Environmentalists consider the legislation a victory because it revises language in the budget that would have exempted plastic compostable bags from the tax and would have blocked towns from enacting ordinances requiring a charge on paper bags.

Lori Brown, executive director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, said her organization brought a lot of pressure to bear on house members and on the governor’s office.

“We really needed to give some kudos to the House,” said Brown, noting that it’s a rarity to get a budget bill amended on the floor. “This was a really bloody battle.”

Brown said it makes sense not to exempt so-called compostable plastic bags from the ban because those bags don’t biodegrade on their own and must be put through a special process.

She is also pleased that the bill now leaves towns free to enact their own ordinances concerning single-use checkout bags as long as the local regulations are equally or more restrictive than the state provisions. This means, she said, a town can pass an ordinance requiring a charge on paper bags if desired.

Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, said 10 municipalities have already passed some version of a plastic bag ban.

“We wanted to honor their efforts to make sure that whatever we did legislatively at the state level would not preempt those efforts or future efforts by municipalities to create regulations that might actually be stronger than the state’s,” he said. “So that was very important that we clarified that.”

On compostable bags, Steinberg said, “It’s a broader subject that we felt needed further exploration. I believe we’ll be looking at doing a study and we’ll contemplate biodegradable bags and compostable bags more broadly in the broader context of waste management and what’s best for Connecticut, hopefully in the coming year.”

Although the plastic bag ban was hailed by environmentalists, concerns still exist.

For one, by not also banning paper bags, the state could leave itself open to a loophole. Namely, that if paper bags are still available, people will simply switch from plastic to paper bags, which come with their own set of problems. One is that the carbon footprint from their manufacture and transport is actually greater than that of plastic bags.

Paper bags are also more expensive than plastic – as much as 10 times as expensive. That’s why in other places in the U.S., at least part of the fee on plastic bags has gone back to retailers to help compensate them for paper bag costs.

The legislation doesn’t require a charge on paper bags — which is what Wayne Pesce, executive director of Connecticut Food Association, wanted. It doesn’t prevent stores from charging for paper bags either.

Another concern is a lack of consistency. Part of the goal of a statewide mandate was to prevent grocery and other retail chains from facing different regulations from municipality to municipality. By allowing municipalities to still implement their own, potentially stronger, ordinances, the provision in the budget may do less than anticipated to solve that problem.

Pesce, while disappointed with some aspects of the legislation, is still supportive of the state’s efforts.

“It’s a good bill directionally. It’s the right way to go,” he said. “It was just how we got to it.”

But bottle bill, plastic straws untouched

Other environmental measures aimed at reducing the waste stream have not been as successful this legislative session.

On Saturday, the House passed a strike-all amendment that derailed efforts to update bottle redemption legislation in House Bill 7294. The bill would have expanded the types of redeemable bottles to include most teas, juices and sports drinks. It also would have increased the beverage container deposit to 10 cents, up from five cents.

Instead, the House approved an amendment that establishes a task force to study the existing law, assess its efficacy and report back by Dec. 31, 2019.

“We needed the bottle bill fixed and they killed it,” Brown lamented. “We were just absolutely beside ourselves.”

Lou Rosado Burch, Connecticut program director for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said he is “very disappointed at the legislature’s failure” to address the bottle issue.

“It’s a betrayal of the public interest,” he said.

Rep. Joseph Gresko, D-Stratford and vice-chairman of the legislature’s environment committee, defended the task force, however.

“There have been task forces done before but not everyone was in the room and the other task forces didn’t have the weight of the Speaker’s office behind them,” he said.

“We’ll meet during the course of the rest of this year and then hopefully come back with a recommendation on how to modernize the bottle bill going forward and if that means a series of bills over the course of the next few years then so be it,” Gresko said. “I don’t think that there’s a magic wand out there that’s going to fix all the concerns from everyone all at the same time.”

Meanwhile, a bill that banned single-use plastic straws — House Bill 5385— was the subject of such lengthy debate last week in the House that it was put on hold temporarily.

“It fell into the filibuster abyss,” Brown said. She said it’s unclear whether it will die there or eventually be resurrected.

Two other waste-stream bills — reducing the use of styrofoam — have been passed by a single chamber.

House bill 5384, banning the single-use styrofoam containers — was passed in House and awaits consideration in the Senate. While, a bill that would ban styrofoam trays in schools — Senate Bill 229 — was passed in the Senate but hasn’t been raised yet in the House.

'This bill is very much alive'


'This bill is very much alive'

Intense negotiations in Albany over climate change legislation are sucking the air out of most every other environmental measure. A bill sponsored by Sen. James Gaughran that passed earlier in the Senate was approved Tuesday by the Assembly that makes it easier for water suppliers to sue polluters to recover cleanup costs. Now on the runway is a bill to ban from consumer products the probable carcinogen 1,4-dioxane, which is emerging as one of the biggest headaches for Long Island water suppliers.

And environmentalists are turning up the heat on that second bill to get it approved.

Citizens Campaign for the Environment delivered some 14,300 signatures on petitions Tuesday morning to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie supporting the legislation. The signatures came from Long Island, the Syracuse area and Stewart-Cousins’ legislative district. CCE members also sent at least 1,950 letters.

“This bill is very much alive,” CCE executive director Adrienne Esposito told The Point. “We are very hopeful it’s going to make it over the finish line because of the outpouring of public support and the need to protect our water.”

The bill is being sponsored by the two Long Island environmental conservation chairs, Assemb. Steve Englebright and Sen. Todd Kaminsky. It has progressed further in the Assembly but Kaminsky is negotiating with Stewart-Cousins in that chamber.

An emerging contaminant that has been showing up in water supplies on Long Island, in particular, 1,4-dioxane was found in more than 80 percent of common household products like shampoos, laundry soaps, dish soaps and baby products, according to a CCE study. The chemical has been linked to various cancers and liver and kidney damage.

Esposito met Friday with several chemical industry and consumer product company representatives, and said, “It was apparent that the industries did not understand their role in contaminating Long Island’s groundwater.”

They do now.

“The bill has legs,” Esposito said as the talks continue..

We’ll find out soon if it’s quick enough to beat the June 19 scheduled end of session.

Report: Long Island's drinking water has most contaminants in state


Report: Long Island's drinking water has most contaminants in state

The drinking water on Long Island has “by far” the most emerging contaminants of any region in the state, according to a review of detections of the substances by the New York Public Interest Research Group.

The review, “What’s in My Water,” was done by the Albany-based group using data collected between 2013 and 2016, and it concluded that “one or more emerging contaminants” could affect the supplies of about 16 million New Yorkers. The review was released May 28.

The report cautioned: “It is unclear if certain detections are health concerns” but noted that some emerging contaminants were detected above federal health advisory levels.

An emerging contaminant is one that either wasn't known about in the past, wasn't detectable with available science or wasn't present in the supply, said Christopher Gobler, marine sciences professor at Stony Brook University.

Those contaminants include industrial chemicals from spills, wastewater and components in personal-care products like shampoo and detergent.

The Island’s state of drinking water contrasts with the supply serving New York City, which gets its water from upstate and has acquired land surrounding the reservoirs, protecting the supply. The drinking water on the Island comes locally from below ground.

Among the recommendations in the group’s report: implement testing of the emerging contaminants for every water system maintained by the public, strengthen standards for potentially unsafe chemicals, mandate testing of private household wells and bar the use of certain chemicals until proved safe.

Long Island has some of the highest detections in the nation of chemicals like 1,4 dioxane, a solvent used to keep machinery greased that is also a byproduct of certain personal-care products. The chemical 1,4 dioxane is a likely carcinogen.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, speaking Friday at his office in Manhattan, told Newsday in a response to a question about the report that water quality is “a very big problem, all across the state” and pointed to the state’s $3 billion program for testing, filtration and new pipes.

“I’m worried about the water quality all across the state. We’ve seen it in upstate New York. We see it on the Island. The Island tends to be worse,” he said.

His counsel, Alphonso David, said that $200 million of the money is available for municipalities.

Gobler, chairman of coastal ecology and conservation and professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook, said that the quality of drinking water on Long Island varies.

Some jurisdictions — such as the Suffolk County Water Authority — are good stewards of drinking water, Gobler said. He stressed that the supply to the estimated 100,000 Long Islanders who live in homes with private wells unreached by public pipes should be tested regularly for contaminants.

"It's a misnomer to lump all of Long Island's drinking water into a single category," he said. "If you were to do an honest comparison of the data for the water that Long Islanders drink, you'll find plenty of supplies that compare favorably with New York City."

Dennis Kelleher, a spokesman for the Long Island Water Conference, which represents the area’s drinking water providers, said in a statement following the report: “Long Island’s drinking water providers work tirelessly to ensure tap water meets or exceeds all state and federal standards. We are working closely with regulators on all new standards to ensure the health and safety of our residents.”

Adrienne Esposito, the executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said she wasn't surprised by the report.

"Tell me something I don't know. I don't need a report to tell me that Long Island has drinking-water challenges that surpass the other parts of the state," she said. "I don't think it's surprising to anybody who actually lives here."

She said the contaminants come from the legacy waste of Long Island's industrial past, but also "the greater challenge today is sustaining a water supply that 3 million people live on top of. We discharge our sewage into our drinking water. We have all our surface activities," including pesticides, fertilizers and household chemicals.

Said Esposito: "The point is that everything we do on Long Island impacts the quality of the water underneath our feet."

On Long Island, 19 "distinct emerging contaminants" were detected. Most frequent: Strontium, followed by chromium-6, chlorate, chromium, and 1,4-dioxane.

Nassau County had the most number of systems with detections, with 1,4-dioxane, PFOA and PFOS being detected in both counties. Two other PFAS chemicals were detected in Suffolk County.

Bill Looks to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags Statewide


Bill Looks to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags Statewide

HARTFORD, CT – Today, Environment Committee co-chairs state Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) and state Representative Mike Demicco (D-Farmington) were joined by fellow lawmakers, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and the Citizens Campaign for the Environment at a press conference to unveil the details of legislation to ban single-use plastic bags.

“As municipalities across the state enact bans on single-use plastic bags it sends a clear message that action must be taken,” said Sen. Cohen. “The time is now to pass legislation that will ban these bags that are contributing to pollution in our oceans and forests, as well as on our highways, beaches and in our parks. This bill will get us one step closer to ensuring that our environment and wildlife are not harmed by plastic bags and provides Connecticut’s businesses with enough time to find environmentally conscious alternatives.”

Senate Bill 1003, “An Act Concerning the Use of Single-Use Plastic and Paper Bags,” will prohibit stores from providing and/or selling plastic single-use carryout bags at the point of sale. It will also require any paper single-use carryout bag to be 100 percent recyclable and have at least 40 percent post-consumer recycled content. Paper bags will also be required to conspicuously display, “please reuse and recycle this bag,” on the bag.

SB 1003 will go into effect upon passage, setting these changes in motion for a state ban by July 1, 2021. The bill passed the Environment Committee by a bipartisan 25-4 vote on March 25. This legislation awaits action by the state Senate and House of Representatives. The Senate anticipates hearing the proposal this week. Rep. Demicco said this legislation will curb the single-use plastic habit that is harming the environment.

“There is a dire need to address the single-use plastics our society uses on a daily basis and acknowledge that it directly impacts our environment, waterways and wildlife,” said Rep. Demicco.

Single-use plastic bags contribute to pollution at parks, beaches, roads, waterways and can easily be swept into storm drains and cause severe blockages. According to the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, these single-use bags do not fully break down and are oftentimes mistaken as food by aquatic wildlife. State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) spoke at the press conference and said a plastic bag ban will greatly benefit the state.

“Ten years ago, my hometown became the first municipality in Connecticut to ban plastic bags,” said Sen. Haskell. “It’s about time we bring the ban to the state level. Plastic bags pose a tangible threat to our environment, and Hartford needs to stand up for communities that rely on the Long Island Sound. I’m grateful for the hard work of my colleagues on the Environment Committee as well as the many activists in my community who have worked on this issue for years. Together, I’m hopeful we can cross the finish line and adopt more sustainable habits.”

Single-use paper bags pose a risk to the environment as well, as 14 million trees are cut down annually and these single-use paper bags take up more space in the municipal solid waste stream than plastic bags, according to the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. Louis Burch, the Connecticut Program Director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said the time is now to pass legislation to rid our state of single-use checkout bags.

“It’s time to make single-use checkout bags a thing of the past in Connecticut,” said Burch. “The dominoes are falling all around us—more than 15 towns in CT have taken action to eliminate plastic bags, and a dozen more stand poised to do the same. Now it’s the state’s turn to kick the plastic bag habit. The people want the state to pass an effective bag law; one that eliminates plastic pollution and promotes reusable bag use. The people of Connecticut are ready to give up single-use bags for good. Now it’s time for state lawmakers to answer the call.”

Currently, New York, California and Hawaii have statewide single-use plastic bag bans. Across the country, cities and towns are implementing their own bans and across the state, Hamden, Mansfield, Middletown, New Canaan, New Britain, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Greenwich and Westport have passed single-use plastic bag bans.

About Christine Cohen: Sen. Cohen was first elected in 2018 to represent the 12th Senate District which consists of Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison and North Branford. Christine is a small business owner; the proud owner of Cohen’s Bagel Company.

Long Island's water systems top the state in detected contaminants, study says


Long Island's water systems top the state in detected contaminants, study says


CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (FOX 5 NY) - New York State is known for having some of the cleanest drinking water in the nation but the same doesn't hold true for all of its suburban counterparts, especially Long Island, according to a study by the New York Public Interest Research Group.

"Long Island had more water systems that detected emerging contaminates when compared to the rest of the state," NYPIRG environmental policy director Elizabeth Moran said.

The big difference is where the water comes from.

New York City has a unique water protection program that limits development near its upstate reservoirs, keeping pollutants far away from its water sources.

On the other hand, Long Island's public water systems are rooted in the ground and are easily contaminated by chemicals like 1,4-dioxane, a solvent used in the production of other chemicals.

"It's listed by the U.S. EPA as a 'likely carcinogen,' which means it causes cancer, and unfortunately, it's found in 80% of our household products," said Adrienne Esposito, the executive director of Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Low levels of exposure to 1,4-Dioxane can cause other health risks, too, like thyroid disordersand high cholesterol.

The Suffolk County Water Authority has invested in treatment systems to rid the groundwater of chemicals like 1,4-Dioxane but the cost doesn't come cheap. In fact, much of that cost gets tacked onto Long Islanders' water bills.

"‪We started detecting 1,4-Dioxane in the water supply… over a decade ago," Suffolk County Water Authority's Joseph Pokorny said. "And we started testing for it and we started to develop this type of system here as a small-scale pilot."

An advanced oxidation system, which costs roughly $1 million, is capable of removing up to 99% of 1,4-Dioxane from the water.

Report: Long Island has most contaminated water in NY


Report: Long Island has most contaminated water in NY


Long Island's water has the highest levels of certain dangerous chemicals in the entire state, according to a recent report from New York Public Interest Research Group.

"By reviewing all this data, we found that 176 water systems detected one or more emerging contaminants, which impacts 16 million New Yorkers," says Liz Moran, director of NYPIRG environmental policy.

Among the contaminants is 1,4-dioxane, a chemical found in many common household products. The compound is suspected of causing cancer and other health issues.

Adrienne Esposito, of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, says the report should make all Long Islanders want to know more about what's in their water. She says anything that seeps into the ground can seep into the water supply.

According to the report, Hicksville, Greenlawn, Hempstead and municipalities serviced by the Suffolk Water Authority are just some of the places with the highest levels of contaminants.

Suffolk Water Authority's CEO sent a statement saying: "Though emerging contaminants in groundwater caused by industrial pollution and others factors are certainly a significant concern, the Suffolk County Water Authority has addressed the issue through years of proactive and voluntary testing.”

And Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said: "The report is alarming, not only for Greenlawn residents but for all residents of the Town of Huntington...We filed a civil suit against the entities responsible for 1,4-dioxane contamination on May 20th to hold them accountable for the costs of removing 1,4-dioxane from our local water supplies.”

NYPIRG says it hopes that alerting people to what's in their water will lead New York lawmakers to make changes to get rid of the contaminants and keep it that way.

The report, called "What's in My Water," also says that while having contaminants in our water doesn't mean the public health is at risk, lawmakers should be pushing for more testing and tougher standards for water quality testing.

Proposed bag ban gives retailers, grocers another year


Proposed bag ban gives retailers, grocers another year

Hartford — The latest proposal to eliminate single-use plastic bags from checkout lines across the state — and, in turn, the waste stream and Connecticut waterways — gives retailers an additional year to put the ban in place, lawmakers announced this week.

Senate Bill 1003, as introduced earlier this year, would have prohibited stores from offering the nonbiodegradable bags starting next January. But an amended proposal announced Wednesday by Environment Committee Co-Chairs state Sen. Christine Cohen, D-Guilford, and Rep. Mike Demicco, D-Farmington, calls for a statewide ban beginning July 1, 2021, with Cohen saying the bill ensures "that our environment and wildlife are not harmed by plastic bags and provides Connecticut's businesses with enough time to find environmentally conscious alternatives."

Environmentalists and the Connecticut Food Association, whose members operate about 300 retail food stores and 135 pharmacies, expressed support for the measure, which could be up for a vote in the state Senate within days.

"Single-use plastic bags are a huge source of pollution in our cities, our suburbs, and our open spaces. They're a threat to our oceans, our wildlife, and our quality of life," Amanda Schoen, deputy director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, said Thursday. "Towns and cities across Connecticut have passed their own bans, but we cannot afford to take a piecemeal approach. A statewide ban will provide clarity for businesses while also reducing waste. It is a win-win for everyone."

More than two dozen Connecticut communities, including Waterford, Stonington and Groton, have considered bans, and several local restaurants have given up plastic straws in favor of paper or metal ones. Mystic Seaport Museum announced an environmental stewardship campaign to use plant-based straws, paper shopping bags and to-go containers, and strands of pasta instead of plastic stirrers. New York, California and Hawaii already have enacted statewide bans, and Rhode Island is considering one.

"In my eyes, a state ban is preferable to a town ban, as it will both remove more plastic bags from our local ecosystems and remove concerns about negative economic impacts on local businesses," Waterford Representative Town Meeting member Joshua Steele Kelly said Thursday. Kelly added that he remains "cautiously optimistic" the proposal will become law and described Waterford's inaction on the subject for more than a year as inexcusable.

The proposed statewide bill would force stores to provide only single-use carryout bags made of 100 percent recyclable paper containing at least 40 percent previously recycled material. The paper bags must "conspicuously display ... 'Please Reuse and Recycle This bag," and stores could be slapped with $250 fines for any violations after an initial warning from a town, health district or officials with the Departments of Consumer Protection or Energy and Environmental Protection.

The bill allows municipalities to enact their own ordinances regarding the bags, so long as the ordinances are "as restrictive" or tougher than the state law. Trash bags, bags without handles designed for newspapers and clothing, and bags provided by pharmacies to customers buying prescription medications are among those excluded from the ban.

Wayne Pesce, president of the Connecticut Food Association, noted the law could pair with Gov. Ned Lamont's proposal for a 10-cent fee on the bags, potentially producing about "$30 million in revenue to the budget before an eventual phase-out of all single-use plastic bags is complete."

Based on CFA's research, more than 600 million plastic bags are distributed in Connecticut annually, only 5 percent of which are disposed of properly, with "far too many (ending) up in the wrong places: coastal waterways, recycling facilities and incinerators," Pesce said Thursday.

Last year, volunteers snatched up more than 1,000 plastic grocery bags along the shoreline during the International Coastal Cleanup, according to Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound Soundkeeper Bill Lucey.

Lucey recently said that the bags and large pieces of plastic "can choke wildlife and fill the stomachs of whales, birds and turtles, causing starvation. They eventually are broken into tiny pieces by sunlight and water action, becoming a form of microplastic that is emerging as an enormous threat to our health and wildlife.”

Pesce said CFA's "goal all along was to have a policy meant to change consumer behavior with the hope that the vast majority of consumers will utilize reusable bags. This law will accomplish that. Over the next two years, it will eliminate the production, distribution and usage of over 80 percent of all single-use bags distributed in Connecticut, reducing in its wake more than 450 million plastic bags."

Pesce added that CFA's member organizations recognize that increased paper production — which emits greenhouse gasses and leads to deforestation — isn't a real solution.

"The most sustainable option for consumers is the use of reusable bags that should be washed regularly with soap and water or wiped clean with a disinfectant wipe," he said. "Connecticut's grocers will continue working to get as many reusable bags into customers' hands during the transition through promotions, giveaways and rewards."

In a statement, the Citizens Campaign for the Environment noted that single-use paper bags pose an environmental risk, as well, with 14 million trees cut down annually and paper bags taking up even more space than plastic bags in the municipal solid waste stream.

Jennifer Brogan, director of external communications & community relations for Stop & Shop, on Thursday also encouraged customers to use reusable bags. Brogan said the grocer shares "customers' concerns regarding the environmental consequences of plastic waste and are actively working on ways to reduce our impact as a brand."

Stop & Shop and parent company Ahold Delhaize have removed 1 billion plastic bags from the waste stream in recent years and are part of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, so by 2025, "all our plastic packaging will be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable" and the store will eliminate all "unnecessary single-use plastics" in favor of reusable alternatives, Brogan said.

Suffolk to test water near Brookhaven lab for firefighting foam contaminant


Suffolk to test water near Brookhaven lab for firefighting foam contaminant

The research facility has agreed to pay for the tests, which will measure six per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. Firefighting foams used at the lab from the 1960s until 2008 include perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, known as PFOS.

Suffolk County will test drinking water at about 97 homes south of Brookhaven National Laboratory for contamination associated with firefighting foam, almost six months after a citizens advisory board expressed concern that the emerging contaminant had spread outside the lab.

Suffolk will contact property owners in the East Yaphank neighborhood beginning this week and collect water samples "as early as next week," according to a letter sent Monday by Brookhaven National Laboratory director Doon Gibbs to the Community Advisory Council.

“This is good news," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment and a member of the community advisory council. She added: "It’s been six months that the public's been at risk, which is very concerning.”

The federal research facility also has agreed to pay for the tests, which will measure six per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. Firefighting foams used at the lab from the 1960s until 2008 include perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, known as PFOS, which the state is expected to regulate this year.

Groundwater tests at Brookhaven National Laboratory have shown high levels of the contaminant PFOS on the base and around the perimeter. Suffolk County health officials had recommended the testing of the private wells outside the lab, but the lab said in December it was consulting with state and federal regulators on whether the testing was necessary.

"The issues are complex, and we’re pleased to be moving forward quickly together with the county," Will Safer, a spokesman for the laboratory, said in an email.

Suffolk County Department of Health spokeswoman Grace Kelly-McGovern said in an email that the length of time was "due to the requirement for a formal legal agreement that required input from both legal departments."

The group of chemicals increasingly have become a concern among regulators and environmentalists. Possible health effects from high exposure include liver damage, decreased fertility, and developmental delays in fetuses and children, as well as links to cancer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The tests, which will be performed at a private lab contracted by BNL, will detect down to two parts per trillion. A state panel of experts recommended a drinking water standard of 10 parts per trillion for PFOS and a related chemical, PFOA, commonly found in products meant to repel water, grease and oil.

The letter from Gibbs said the results would be shared with the county, though it was unclear how long it would take to get the test results.

Testing wells installed near the lab's current firehouse found levels of PFOA and PFOS up to 12,400 parts per trillion, and at 5,370 parts per trillion at the lab's former firehouse, the lab has said. Those two sites were believed to be the "primary locations" where firefighting foam was used during training.

Historical photos included in the lab's presentation to the advisory group last year show firefighting foam spilling onto the ground during training exercises in 1966 and a demonstration of a fire suppression system in 1970.

The contamination has been found at three of the five drinking water supply wells at BNL; two at levels of up to 27 parts per trillion, and one at up to 70.4 parts per trillion. Other samples were below 70 parts per trillion, which is the current EPA health advisory level for PFOS.

Private wells are not regularly tested or treated, and are generally shallower than those drilled by public water providers, meaning health officials fear they're more susceptible to pollution.

Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue), whose district includes the lab, said he's happy the testing will take place, but said if PFOS contamination is found at the homes, the lab shouldn't immediately be blamed.

"You can’t automatically assume it came from the lab," he said.

BNL is a research institution funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy, with almost 3,000 employees and 4,000 visiting researchers studying physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, and applied science.

Environmentalists Hail 'Landmark' Green Initiatives In NYS Budget


By Darwin Yanes

The New York State budget will provide funds to create a food scrap recycling program, help Long Island’s water infrastructure and ban plastic bags.

Environmentalist groups hail this as “landmark” legislation.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, says the food scrap program will set a precedent for other states.

“We think that this is the beginning of a new technology and a new way to deal with food scraps throughout the state of New York and our nation. Food waste should not be looked as a waste item, but rather as a resource.”

She says food scraps will be recycled for renewable energy.

The budget also gives $500 million to pay for sewer upgrades and water filtration systems throughout the state.