Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) and U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) and Lee Zeldin (NY-1) today introduced legislation to support the restoration of Long Island Sound through 2020. 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. The legislation provides for additional focus, oversight and coordination of federal activities related to the restoration of Long Island Sound.
“The Long Island Sound is a natural treasure and an economic engine for the whole region that draws families, boaters, tourists and anglers to our shores. This legislation will make sure we have the federal funds necessary to help restore and protect the beaches and waters in and around the Long Island Sound for current and future generations,” said Senator Schumer.
“The Long Island Sound is one of our most important natural treasures, and a vital economic anchor that supports thousands of local jobs,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Maintaining these authorization levels would help protect the long-term health of the Sound and help promote economic development in the area. I will continue to work with my colleagues to build on the ongoing efforts to restore the Sound for generations to come.”
“This important measure helps protect and preserve one of our nation’s most precious and important natural treasures – the Long Island Sound – which provides immense environmental and economic benefits to Connecticut and the country. Not only is the Sound home to a diverse array of wildlife, it is also a foundation for hundreds of jobs in the tourism, shellfish, manufacturing, and maritime industries. I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure that the Long Island Sound remains one of Connecticut’s most treasured and valuable resources for years to come,” said Senator Blumenthal.
“Long Island Sound is a job creator for Connecticut. It generates billions of dollars from tourism, fishing, and shipping for our state each year, and keeping it clean is simply the right thing to do for the environment and our economy,” said Senator Murphy. “This bill could be a game-changer for Long Island Sound. I won’t stop fighting until it is signed into law.”
“Today, I am proud to introduce the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act, which will help ensure the restoration and long-term health of one of our greatest natural treasures—the Long Island Sound. This legislation will bring critical investments to our regional economy, our environment, and our communities throughout Connecticut and New York,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “This legislation is essential to future restoration efforts, especially in light of the Trump Administration’s plan to eliminate EPA funding for the Sound. I will work with my colleagues both in the House and in the Senate to pass this legislation and ensure that the Long Island Sound will continue to be a valuable resource for generations to come.”
Congressman Lee Zeldin said, “I am honored to help introduce this critical legislation to preserve and protect the Long Island Sound. An essential part of our local recreation and tourism industries, the Sound is relied upon by thousands of Long Islanders as a means of living, and is home to more than 9 million people living in the surrounding coastal communities. We must do everything we can to protect this natural treasure which is a precious feature of our life, culture and economy here in the First Congressional District of New York.”
In 1985, the EPA, in agreement with New York and Connecticut, created the Long Island Sound Study (LISS), an office under the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) charged with advancing efforts to restore the sound and address low oxygen levels and nitrogen levels that have depleted fish and shellfish populations as well as hurt shoreline wetlands. In 1990, the Long Island Sound Improvement Act passed providing federal dollars to advance Sound cleanup projects, including wastewater treatment improvements.
In 2006, identifying the need for increased stakeholder participation and the need to focus on coastal restoration and improved public access and education, Congress passed the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act, which provided federal dollars for projects to restore the coastal habitat to help revitalize the wildlife population and coastal wetlands and plant life. Since then, for every $1 appropriated, the LISS has leveraged $87 from other Federal, state, local and private funding sources, totaling more than $3.8 billion. This funding has enabled programs to significantly reduce the amount of nitrogen entering the Long Island Sound from sewage treatment plants by 42,000,000 lbs. per year as of 2015 compared to the 1990s, restored at least 1,548 acres and protected 2,580 acres of habitat land.
The Sound borders New York and Connecticut, with 9 million people living on the coast and 24 million people living within 50 miles. Although decades of high levels of development, pollution, dumping of dredged materials, and releases of untreated sewage have severely hurt the water quality, the Sound’s economic contribution, including from sport and commercial fishing, boating, recreation and tourism, is estimated to be between $17 billion and $37 billion annually.
The legislation would allow the LISS to maintain the important gains that have been made, and build on those achievements to further protect and restore the sound and watershed for future generations.