New York State Legislative Agenda

We’ve been in Albany lobbying our representatives for continued financial support of critical environmental programs such as the Environmental Protection Fund and Clean Water Infrastructure Act, as well as the newly announced “Restore Mother Nature” Bond Act. Other budget priorities include increasing staffing at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Department of Health (DOH) as well as increased funding of the Interstate Environmental Commission (IEC). Other legislative priorities include state protection of NY’s streams and freshwater wetlands and a state-wide ban on single-use polystyrene foam.

Left to right, Pat Aikens (Peconic Estuary Protection Committee), Eric Swensen (Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee), George Hoffman (Setauket Task Force), Tracy Brown (Save the Sound), Nicolas Calderon (TNC)

Read our Memorandum of Support below or you can download it here.


Save the Sound Priorities for New York State Fiscal Year 2020-2021
For more than 40 years Save the Sound has been protecting clean water and restoring Long Island Sound
ecosystems through hands-on science and community collaboration, legislative advocacy, and legal action.

Save the Sound strongly supports the proposed Restore Mother Nature Bond Act. In our work we see the
widespread need to design and build more projects that address the stresses our communities are facing due
to the changing climate. The proposed bond would fund projects that reduce local flooding, increase habitat
for wildlife, conserve our critical natural resources, and reduce climate change. If passed, Save the Sound
will work to support the passage of the bond in November.

Current investments for clean water infrastructure are yielding significant results, however, we still have
much work to do to address all of NY’s clean water needs – estimated at $80 billion over 20 years, not
including emerging contaminant treatment, drinking water source protection, or harmful algal bloom
response and prevention. In order to meet our wastewater infrastructure needs and keep drinking water
safe and affordable, New York State should invest $1 billion in new clean water infrastructure funding in the
2020-21 budget.

The historic sustained funding level of the EPF should be maintained in the SFY 2020-2021 to a funding level
of $300 million or greater. The Environmental Protection Fund supports projects that protect and improve
water and air quality, conserve critical open space, and sustain valuable environmental research and
education. The fund enables NY state to leverage federal, local, and private dollars, investing in a healthy
environment which in turn makes New York an attractive home for businesses and families. We support an
increase in the EPF to support the following:

Increase the appropriation allocated to the Interstate Environmental Commission (IEC) from $41,600
to $96,323. This modest increase is critical in order for IEC to maintain eligibility to apply for and
receive federal funding in excess of $1,000,000 annually, yielding New York State a significant return on
its investment. This increase will help ensure the IEC can continue and expand ambient water quality
monitoring of Long Island Sound as well as involvement in DEC’s Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan and
South Shore Estuary Program activities.

Staff levels need to be increased at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department
of Health (DOH) to keep pace with critically needed water protection programs and to enforce existing laws
and regulations designed to protect public health. Program needs within both agencies have increased
significantly in recent years. Experienced staffers have retired, resulting in decreased staff levels. New York
State needs to immediately increase staffing levels in key program areas to ensure efficient and effective
implementation of clean water programs, design and construction approvals for projects receiving
infrastructure funding, and to prevent missed opportunities to leverage federal, local and private dollars.

Protecting New York’s small streams is integral to protecting our sources of drinking water throughout the
state. Under DEC’s Protection of Waters Program, class AA, A, B streams, and class C streams that support
trout populations or may support trout spawning, are protected from certain activities and require a permit
for other impacting activities such as stream bank or bed disturbance. New York should adopt
A.8349/S.5612-A, which would add New York’s class C streams into DEC’s program, providing additional
protections for thousands of stream miles across the state.

Independent of size, wetlands play an integral role in protecting water quality, absorbing floodwaters, and
supporting wildlife. For example, one acre of freshwater wetland can hold over a million gallons of water.
Acting like filters, wetlands protect water supplies by absorbing pollutants, pesticides, nitrogen, phosphorus
and other contaminants. Current law limits the DEC to protect and map wetlands 12.4 acres or larger, or
wetlands of “unusual local importance.” Independent of scientific and ecological value, the 12.4 acre size
limitation was included in the Freshwater Wetlands Act of 1975. New York State can protect water quality
and make our state more resilient to climate change by enacting A.3658/S.5576, which will protect all
wetlands one acre or larger.

Polystyrene plastic is produced from petrochemicals and causes health and environmental hazards.
Polystyrene is derived from styrene and benzene, both of which are neurotoxins and probable carcinogens
posing a human health hazard. Polystyrene is the only plastic used in food packaging that is based on a
carcinogen. Styrene leaching from polystyrene products increases with temperature and particular foods
such as alcohol, oils and fats. Therefore, polystyrene products raise a human health and environmental risk
necessitating their removal from use as a food packaging material.

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