FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — Three lawmakers from Connecticut are part of an effort to stop the Trump administration from slashing $65 million a year in funds used to protect and restore Long Island Sound.
“This legislation is essential to future restoration efforts, especially in light of the Trump Administration’s plan to eliminate EPA funding for the Sound," said U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd District).
The Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act, introduced last week, is also supported by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy (both D-Conn.) and U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (both D-N.Y.) and U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.).
The act combines two water quality and shore restoration programs at their previous levels of $40 million and $25 million per year, respectively, which the Trump administration has proposed to cut completely.
The legislation also provides for additional focus, oversight and coordination of federal activities related to the restoration of the Sound.
Blumenthal pointed to the Sound's environmental and economic benefits on the region.
"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,” he said.
Although decades 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.
“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 Murphy. “This bill could be a game-changer for Long Island Sound.”
In 1985, the EPA, in agreement with Connecticut and New York, created the Long Island Sound Study, an office under the Environment Protection Agency charged with advancing efforts to restore the Sound.
It also addresses the 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, 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 Sound from sewage treatment plants by 42 million pounds per year as of 2015 compared with the 1990s, restored at least 1,548 acres and protected 2,580 acres of habitat land.