Benjamin Gilman on Environment
Former Republican Representative (NY-20)
Dear Administrator Whitman:
We would like to convey our strong support for EPA’s proposal to remove sediment contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the “hot spots” in the upper Hudson River. This clean-up plan is a crucial first step towards restoring the Hudson’s tremendous social, ecological, and economic value for the people of NY and NJ.
The Hudson River has been designated as an American Heritage River. Unfortunately, since 1983, 200 miles of the Hudson have also been designated as a Superfund site due to the damage caused by the estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs released by General Electric Company.
PCBs pose a serious threat to public health; they are probable human carcinogens and are known to cause neurological, reproductive, and endocrine disorders. Since 1976, because of PCB contamination, women of childbearing age and children [have been advised] not to eat any fish from any location along the Hudson. Unfortunately, low-income and subsistence fishermen and their families continue to consume fish contaminated with PCBs.
This contamination also adversely impacts longstanding commercial, recreational, and cultural activities on the Hudson River. For example, the commercial striped bass fishery was once a $40 million a year industry. However, due to PCB contamination, the state closed the fishery in 1976, all but ending a way of life along the river.
Environmental dredging in the Hudson will allow future dredging to ensure commercial craft continue to ply the waters of the upper Hudson River, and reduce the adverse affects of PCBs on the aquatic ecosystem. This means EPA’s remediation plan is a critical first step in reducing threats to public health, reviving local economies, reopening recreational opportunities and reinvigorating cultural ties along the river.
H.R. 2941 Brownfields Redevelopment Enhancement Act.
Republican Main Street Partnership Congresswomen Marge Roukema (NJ), Sue Kelly (NY), and Melissa Hart (PA) as well as Congressman Paul Gillmor (PA) have introduced legislation providing a new source of funding for improving former industrial sites. H.R. 2941 reauthorizes the Brownfields Remediation Grant Program as well as creating a new loan program for brownfields redevelopment. The pilot program encourages cities to tap private loans for civic improvements by using the federal grants as collateral. The bill allows for Community Development Block Grants to be used in industrial site clean up as well.
H.R. 2438/H.R. 2694 Department of Environmental Protection Act.
Republican Main Street Partnership members Sherwood Boehlert (NY) and Steve Horn (CA) each have introduced legislation that would elevate the position of Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to that of cabinet level. Initially, the EPA served as a regulatory agency, but as a result of numerous statutes enacted by Congress, the agency's jurisdiction has swelled. Each bill would redesignate the EPA as the Department of Environmental Protection. RMSP supports the efforts of Congressman Vern Ehlers to include a deputy administrator for science within the department.
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NY-25:Ann Marie Buerkle