Weekly Update: It’s the Climb

David Ansel (left), Kaleigh Pitcher, and Alex Rodriguez spent Valentine’s Day in Albany, representing Save the Sound at Environmental Protection Fund Lobby Day. 

The Slow, Steady Climb Toward Progress on EPF Lobby Day 

Somewhere along your second six-story schlep up to the 9th floor of the Legislative Office Building in New York’s state capitol complex, the irony of a “lobby day” dawns on you.  

The term suggests a meeting that historically has happened in a lobby (preferably one a half-dozen floors below). The origin of its political context traces back to an 1817 newspaper article referring to William Irving (brother of author Washington) as a “lobby member” of the New York Legislature. So, if you’re going to engage in lobbying anywhere, it should be in the lobby of this building, whose own name is often abbreviated down to LOB. 

But the where of lobbying is less important than the what and the with whom. And what mattered when four Save the Sound staffers joined roughly 120 representatives of the New Yorkers for Clean Water and Jobs coalition in Albany for EPF Lobby Day last Tuesday was not that they met with members of the state legislature and their staffs in their offices. It’s what they came to do: build support for the Environmental Protection Fund (and using the full $400 million for capital projects, not administrative costs) and other priorities for the New York State budget being crafted for Fiscal Year 2024. 

“In order to make the biggest impact we can for clean water, we need to join forces with a coalition of organizations fighting for the same policies,” said Alex Rodriguez, our environmental justice specialist, who was joined on Lobby Day by David Ansel, our regional director of water protection; Kaleigh Pitcher, policy intern; and David Seigerman, clean water communications specialist. “This coalition evolved from the collaborative work that led to passing the Environmental Bond Act in November, and this time we came back together to speak with elected officials about ensuring these programs get the funding they need.” 

Alex’s Lobby Day experience included meetings with Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr., a member of the Environmental Conservation Committee whose district includes Long Island’s North Fork from Laurel to Orient Point, and the chief of staff for State Senator Jack Martins, who represents the entire Sound coastline of Nassau County. Alex and a cohort of coalition colleagues talked to the legislators about topics from Department of Environmental Conservation staffing to asking that Clean Water Infrastructure Act funding levels be raised to $1 billion, twice what Governor Kathy Hochul proposed. 

Kaleigh had similarly productive conversations, though one of hers detoured into a discussion of the floating pool in the East River. David Seigerman talked with one assemblyman’s chief of staff about coastal resiliency in his New York City district and a senator’s chief of staff about the Long Island pine barrens (and years of scattering golf balls across that east end district).  

The other David had the longest day of the bunch, sticking around well into the evening to testify before a joint legislature public hearing on environmental conservation. As he’d done during his earlier Lobby Day rounds, David Ansel advocated for a swift and transparent implementation of the Bond Act and Gov. Hochul’s cap-and-invest plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He also fielded questions about shellfish restoration and investment in stopping PFAS contamination in our waters. 

Lobbying, as demonstrated that full day, can be done in any location. The nature of the work remains the same: keep delivering the message, one step at a time. 

Youth Profile: Andreina organizes around flooding in Stratford

Andreina Barajas Novoa (she/they) is a junior at Southern Connecticut State University double majoring in sociology and political science to increase their understanding of how to support the collective liberation and wellbeing of all peoples. Andreina, born in New Rochelle, NY and raised in Stratford, CT, is proud of their Mexican roots. Today they community organize with Justice for Our Streets, a local group raising awareness about flooding in Stratford’s South End neighborhood. Andreina became aware of local flooding issues through  having their home regularly flooded after heavy rain. “Growing up, I thought it was normal to see my street as one big lake after severe rain, but over time I learned that this was a severe environmental injustice my community and I were experiencing,” said Andreina. Click here to learn more about Andreina’s flood mitigation awareness efforts. 

A growing force for restoration across the region 

Already this year, Save the Sound has welcomed five new staff, including three members to our Ecological Restoration team. Megan Lung, our Ecological Restoration Project Manager, comes to us from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program. Now, she will work to restore vital stream ecology, promote coastal restoration and implement green infrastructure with Save the Sound. Watershed Liaison Lys Gant comes to us from CitySeed and now will be working with New Haven and Bridgeport community watershed groups to site green infrastructure projects and coordinate outreach efforts. Paul Woodworth, our new Senior Project Manager, joined us from the engineering consulting sector just a week ago and will now be an integral lead in our on-the-ground restoration projects across both Connecticut and New York.   

Find more job opportunities with Save the Sound on our website. 

Community imagines Six Lakes Park 

Discussion of a future park at Six Lakes was on the agenda at the first of two community listening sessions held by our Six Lakes Park Coalition partner CONECT (Congregations Organized for a New CT) last Thursday. The 102-acre property in southern Hamden, CT is owned by the Olin Corporation, which has been under a DEEP consent decree since 1986 to clean up pollution there stemming from munitions testing, gunpowder storage, and the dumping of industrial waste. Little of that cleanup has been accomplished in the 37 years since. In November, Hamden’s legislative council passed a resolution calling for conversion of Six Lakes into “a public space consistent with the community’s vision” and restorative justice for southern Hamden, where neighbors have already lived through a two-decade cleanup of Olin pollution in residential areas. That resolution was later signed by Mayor Lauren Garrett and shared with DEEP. A second meeting to introduce neighbors to the property’s history and hear their initial responses is scheduled for March 8 at 6 p.m. at the Brundage Branch Library. Visit the Six Lakes Park Coalition website to learn more.

Quick Links

  • NATIONAL ACTION OPPORTUNITY: We have just two states to go—Nebraska and South Dakota—to make it an even 50 in support of national monument status for Plum Island! Take action here.
  • Last year the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater hosted a panel of Black environmentalists from NYC and the Hudson River Valley, including Megan Lung, who recently joined the Save the Sound staff! Watch their conversation here.
  • It’s the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Learn more about its international goals in this blog post from Future Frogmen

Upcoming Events  

  • You’re invited to the second public meeting for the Hutchinson River Watershed Plan tonight (Feb. 21) at 6:00 p.m. Join us to learn how you can help keep the Hutchinson and Long Island Sound clean and provide your invaluable feedback to inform our plan. Register here!   
  • Save the Sound’s Youth Eco Advocacy Corps meetings are an opportunity for youth activists to share their sustainability initiatives and learn what our team is doing to promote climate action and environmental justice. We meet every fourth Monday of the month at 6:00 p.m. Register here

Find details on these, and all our events, on our Stay Engaged page. 

Photo of the Week

Would you like your photo to be featured in an upcoming issue? Send it to us at info@savethesound.org!

Get Involved
Jump in

Join the fight! Memberships start at just $25 – support that’s badly needed now for a healthy, sustainable environment over the long term.

Join now

Take part

Saturday, April 27, at East Rock Park in New Haven
Celebrate Earth Day, cycle or hike with the New Haven community, fundraise for environmental organizations, and enjoy food, music, and more at the Green Fair on April 27. Join our cycling team to support a healthy, clean, and thriving Long Island Sound region.

See more

Connect with us

Stay in touch by joining our activist network email list. We'll keep you up-to-date with current initiatives, ways you can take action and volunteer opportunities.

Sign up