Local Leaders Vow to Continue to Fight for Jamaica Bay Protections

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Local officials are going to continue to fight to keep Jamaica Bay clean. Senator Joe Addabbo, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato and a number of other activists who keep a watch over the bay, made that message clear during a press conference in front of the body of water they were fighting for. The press conference comes after Governor Cuomo recently vetoed a bill that would protect the bay from being used to dump potentially contaminated dredging material.

On Tuesday, January 7, Addabbo, Pheffer Amato and even Brooklyn Assemblywoman Jaime Williams, joined Dan Mundy of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, Don Riepe of the American Littoral Society, civic leaders and others who care deeply about protecting Jamaica Bay, to announce that the fight isn’t over after Cuomo’s veto last month. Both Pheffer Amato and Addabbo had sponsored the bill, which unanimously passed the assembly and senate, but was shot down when it landed on Cuomo’s desk. During Tuesday’s press conference, both leaders announced that they will be reintroducing legislation.

Mundy further explained what the bill intended to do. “Basically, it said that you cannot bring any type of dredge material and put it into Jamaica Bay unless it meets EPA clean standards. We thought it was a no brainer given the fact that after 30 years of work, Jamaica Bay is the cleanest we’ve ever seen,” Mundy said. He added that the bill would’ve required dredge material to pass federal standards rather than current NYS Department of Environmental Conservation standards. It would also put more permanent protections in place.

Cuomo’s veto came as a surprise as he has been supportive of other environmental issues. Some were there to address this, such as activist, John Cori. “The most important thing is that Governor Cuomo needs to realize that he can’t be a part-time environmentalist,” he said.

Addabbo spoke about how the bill intended to keep Jamaica Bay protected for years to come. “We padded a bill in 2014. We did it again in 2016. We did it again in 2019 and now it’s going to expire in 2022. So what this bill was going to do was eliminate the sunset clause forever. Let’s do it forever so that we create a legacy of our protected bay for generations to enjoy,” he said. “We move forward, we don’t stop. We’re going to reintroduce the bill and we’re going to sit down with the DEC again and we’re going to iron this out because the life that surrounds Jamaica Bay  depends on this bill and that’s what we’re all about.”

Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato announced that this bill will be a big priority this year. “The veto was very disappointing. We’re going to dust ourselves off and we’re going to take that road map and work with the DEC to get a compromise. The legislative session starts tomorrow and it’s the number one priority on my plate,” Pheffer Amato said.

Not only will they be introducing legislation, but Mundy also announced that an online petition will circulate to show support for the desire to keep contaminated dredge materials out of the bay, and there will be a heavy social media push to garner more support to send a strong message to Governor Cuomo this year.

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