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Rep. Lee Zeldin says he'll fight environmental cuts

Rep. Lee Zeldin speaks at Suffolk Community College

Rep. Lee Zeldin speaks at Suffolk Community College in Riverhead on Nov. 1, 2016. Credit: Ed Betz

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said yesterday that he will fight against federal cuts to Long Island environmental programs rumored to be on the chopping block in President Donald Trump’s budget.

Zeldin said the $3.94 million Long Island Sound Program and $26.5 million National Estuary Program, which funds projects for the Peconic Estuary and Long Island Sound Estuary, could be included in steep cuts the president is expected to call for at the Environmental Protection Agency in the budget he is expected to release Thursday.

“I’m calling on my colleagues to help ensure the Long Island Sound Program and National Estuary Program are fully supported and funded in the upcoming appropriations process, and certainly not eliminated,” he told local elected officials and supporters at a news conference at the Mattituck Park District office.

Zeldin said Trump’s budget proposal is “just a request” and the budget has to be approved by Congress. He noted that former President Barack Obama had proposed a $1 million cut for 2017 to the Long Island Sound Program, which was reversed by Congress.

Zeldin said he would seek a funding increase to $10 million for the Long Island Sound Program, as was included in an appropriations bill that passed the House last year but was rejected in the Senate.

Southold Supervisor Scott Russell, a Republican, said Zeldin “disproved the myth that Republicans don’t care about the environment.”

Outside Zeldin’s event, about a dozen demonstrators held signs calling for Zeldin to hold a town-hall meeting and to “Save the EPA.”

Margaret Cowden, 66, a retired clergy member from Greenport, criticized Zeldin for past votes on the environment and not speaking out more against Trump.

“At most he’ll do the right thing on issues around the Long Island Sound, just to get re-elected, but why isn’t he more vocal?” said Cowden, a member of the group Let’s Visit Lee Zeldin.

The Long Island Sound Program, with an office in Connecticut, administers water-quality work and wetland restoration in Connecticut and Long Island. The National Estuary Program is the primary funding source for the Peconic Estuary Program, which is run out of Suffolk County government.


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