Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, announced today new provisions to improve environmental measures for the Long Island Sound and revise the Army Corps of Engineers’ standards for disposing dredged material have passed out of committee and are headed to the Senate floor for a vote. Gillibrand’s two provisions passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee as part of the final Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes Army Corps of Engineers projects, including dredging and maintenance of New York’s ports, levees, seawalls and dunes to protect communities from flooding. A full Senate vote on the measures is expected soon.
“I fought to get these provisions passed out of committee and included the Water Resources Development Act to help protect the long-term health of the Sound and prevent harmful disposal of dredged material,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Now that these measures have cleared one of the last key hurdles and are headed to the Senate floor for a vote, I am urging my colleagues to pass this legislation to strengthen our environmental protection initiatives and preserve our natural resources, especially here on Long Island.”
Senator Gillibrand secured the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act as part of the committee’s WRDA bill. The Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act combines two complementary water quality and shore restoration program authorizations at their previous authorization levels of $40 million and $25 million per year, respectively. This legislation provides additional focus, oversight and coordination of federal activities related to the restoration of Long Island Sound. Senator Gillibrand introduced the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act earlier this year with Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT).
Gillibrand’s other provision in WRDA requires that dredged materials disposed in open waters meet state water quality standards. If enacted into law, this will ensure that any dredged material that does not meet New York State’s water quality standards will not be disposed of by the Army Corps in the open waters of the Long Island Sound. The bill also includes language that will allow the Army Corps to use dredged material for other beneficial uses that do not include open water dumping, even if those beneficial uses are not the least-cost alternative but provide other environmental restoration, flood protection or resiliency benefits.
The Water Resources Development Act passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by a vote of 19-1 and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.