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RvK Made Voice Heard at Listening Sessions

Water Quality and America’s Great Outdoors Initiative

By Paul Gallay

Riverkeeper made sure that the top-level federal officials who visited the Hudson Valley last week as part of President Obama’s “America’s Great Outdoors” initiative heard us loud and clear: the key to “America’s great outdoors” is great water quality.

  • In session after session, Riverkeeper pushed for more federal investment to fix crumbling municipal water treatment plants. These plants are the first line of defense against pollution in the Hudson River and Metro NY Watershed. We’re going backwards, not forwards here, folks.
  • We then told EPA it needs to step up, and stop harmful “hydrofracking” natural gas drilling. The feds are coming to Binghamton next week for a public hearing on the issue [Riverkeeper’s Craig Michaels will be there, telling them not to Frack with NY’s Water], but the time for hearings and talk is coming to an end – it’s time to make sure the damage our region has suffered already is reversed, not made worse by more drilling.
  • In the wake of crippling budget cuts to New York State DEC, we challenged the feds to keep the state’s feet to the fire on Clean Water Act permitting and enforcement. EPA has independent authority to enforce the act, but delegates much of that responsibility to the state. If NY isn’t doing the job right, federal law requires EPA to step in and fix the problem.
  • Glimmers of hope did appear during several agency speeches. EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck – herself a leading environmental activist before she became a top government official – said that federal funds were being invested in water pollution control facilities and that priority is being given to facilities that don’t promote sprawl. She also promised the capacity crowd that EPA would push for a full cleanup of Hudson River PCB contamination and she called on the environmental community to play its part in the cleanup process. You know you can count on that, Judith.

    Will all the federal and state star power on hand today result in increased investment in the Hudson River and Metro NY Watershed? Riverkeeper is already cooking up ways to make sure the agencies’ good words become good deeds. In the coming months, we’ll tell you and our over 3,000 other Facebook friends [on the Riverkeeper and Don’t Frack with NY’s Water pages] how you can help make it happen!

    Paul Gallay
    Executive Director and Hudson Riverkeeper

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