Rick Brand Portrait of Newsday reporter Rick Brand taken on

Rick Brand is a longtime Newsday reporter who writes about politics and government on Long Island.

The Long Island Environmental Voters Forum has endorsed former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi for Congress.

The group said its decision was based partly on the fact that Suffolk Legis. Steve Stern, who also is a candidate in the Democratic primary in the Third Congressional District, voted to authorize raids on the county’s watershed protection program funded by a quarter-cent of the sale tax.

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Richard Amper, the forum’s chairman, said Stern voted twice to use the environmental funds to help offset budget deficits. Environmentalists successfully challenged the moves in court.

Amper said Suozzi, as county executive, did Superfund and brownfield cleanups and developed action plans for clean air, energy and stormwater management. Amper said Suozzi also implemented a water treatment plan for Long Island Sound.

Suozzi thanked the forum for recognizing his record and vowed to “fight for structural change in Congress to preserve and protect our air, land and water.”

Joe Diver, Stern’s campaign manager, downplayed the forum’s endorsement.

Diver noted that current Third District Rep. Steve Israel has endorsed Stern because he would continue the congressman’s “tremendous legacy — especially when it comes to protecting the Long Island Sound. Throughout his career, Stern has made protecting our precious environment a top priority and he’s the only candidate in the race who’s called on the EPA to help stem the increase of nitrogen pollution in the Sound.”