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Southampton, DEC officials bemoan climate efforts at federal level

State and Southampton Town officials criticized "the absence of federal leadership" in fighting climate change while touting the town's climate smart certification during a press conference on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. In order of speakers: Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, town principal planner Janice Scherer, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos and Assemb. Fred Thiele. B-roll comes after footage (Credit: Newsday/Rachelle Blidner).

New York State’s top environmental official joined Southampton Town officials in speaking out Thursday against “the absence of federal leadership” in fighting climate change while touting their own efforts to cut down on emissions.

Basil Seggos, the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said state and local officials must step in to stem climate change and sea level rise, especially after President Donald J. Trump announced this year that he will withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord.

“This is really ground zero for the environment and it’s imperative we do everything we can on Long Island to protect our population, to protect our natural resources,” Seggos said. “This is the defining issue of our time.”

Seggos’ comments came during a news conference announcing Southampton Town has been certified by the state as a climate smart community, a designation that makes the town eligible for state grants funding sustainability efforts.

The town received the certification after officials implemented several environmental programs, including low-nitrogen septic system requirements, solar energy rebates and a goal of using only renewable energy sources for electricity consumption by 2025.

East Hampton Town is the only other Long Island municipality to receive a climate smart certification.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who used to be East Hampton’s supervisor, said he “can accept” being second to achieve the certification on Long Island but not living in the only country not in the Paris accord.

“It’s an embarrassment,” he said.

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