Two local representatives want to change existing legislation in order to direct hundreds of millions of federal dollars to clean up Long Island Sound.
The bipartisan legislation, proposed by Reps. Timothy Bishop (D-Southampton) and Peter King (R-Seaford), would amend existing legislation to provide $125 million the first year and $250 million thereafter to pay for infrastructure repair and construction and new storm water systems. Current legislation now appropriates $40 million a year.
Under the legislation, the money would be distributed through the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Long Island Sound Study program, which funds projects to protect and clean the Sound's fragile ecology.
More than 16,000 members from Citizens Campaign for the Environment members, a Farmingdale environmental group, sent handwritten letters supporting this new Long Island Sound Improvement Act legislation, said Maureen Dolan-Murphy, executive programs manager for the group.
"The Sound is an extension of our homes," she said. "It defines our character, and our quality of life. . . . Last year, we saw dolphins in the Sound. That is a sign to us that the efforts are working."
The Long Island Sound Study, a joint federal and state estuary program designed to clean up pollution from the water, is running out of funds to carry on its mission, Bishop said.
The new legislation also expands the geographical area where the money can be spent to outside of New York and Connecticut, Bishop said, with funding possible for Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire.