Home News Local News Long Island Sound Program gains five-year reauthorization in Congress

Long Island Sound Program gains five-year reauthorization in Congress

A ferry passes the Orient Point lighthouse. File photo: Denise Civiletti

A measure to reauthorize funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound Program has passed both chambers of Congress and is on its way to the president for signature.

The L.I. Sound Program will be funded at $65 million a year for five years under a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who co-chair the bipartisan Long Island Sound Caucus.

The Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act, H.R. 1674, first introduced in the House in March 2017, was passed as an amendment to the Senate’s America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021), Zeldin announced yesterday.

It authorizes $40 million in annual appropriations to fund the Long Island Sound Study management conference in fiscal years 2018 through 2023 and $25 million annually for L.I. Sound stewardship grants in each of those fiscal years.

Rep. Lee Zeldin at a press conference in Mattituck in March 2017 calling on Congress to pass the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act. File photo: Katharine Schroeder

President Donald Trump’s “America First” budget blueprint called for cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual budget by about one-third and eliminating funding for specific regional efforts such as the L.I. Sound program. Zeldin and the L.I. congressional delegation fought back against slashing funding for the program they credit with restoring the health of the nationally designated estuary.

A five-year reauthorization removes the threat of gutting the program year after year, Zeldin said in a statement yesterday. The last time the program was reauthorized for five years was in 2006 at $25 million per year, he said.

The bill provides “long-term certainty,” said Zeldin, who called the measure “long overdue.”

“The Long Island Sound is a critical part of our way of life, culture and economy, supporting tens of billions of dollars in economic value per year,” Zeldin said in a statement yesterday.

“The health and vitality of the Sound help so many hardworking Long Islanders put food on the table and provide a better future for their families,” he said.

“Protecting and restoring this important waterway, which has suffered from pollution and overdevelopment for too many years, goes hand in hand with improving our area’s water quality, restoring our natural habitats and improving local residents’ quality of life,” Zeldin said.

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website. Email Denise.