Press Conference On Environmental Budget Cuts

Tracy Brown of Riverkeeper, speaks at the conference. Alongside her from left to right are Brian Smith, Mayor of Irvington, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, and Greg O'Mullan of Queens College and Columbia University.

Tracy Brown of Riverkeeper, speaks at the conference. Alongside her from left to right are Brian Smith, Mayor of Irvington, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, and Greg O’Mullan of Queens College and Columbia University.

On Friday, Congresswoman Nita Lowey called a press conference asking citizens to urge Local and Federal Government to become involved in the decisions made recently by the Republican Party to cut the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by 34%, meaning that the budget for 2014 will be 3 billion dollars less than 2013. The cut to the agency means that grants for Clean Water will be lessened by 83% and Clean Drinking Water by 61%. Without these research grants, studies focusing on water in the Hudson River will be drastically slowed. Recent studies done by researchers at Queens College, Columbia University, and Hudson Riverkeeper show that there were serious amounts of antibiotic resistant bacteria found in the Hudson River. The study also shows a direct correlation between the levels of bacteria and the level of untreated sewage that leaks into the Hudson. Greg O’Mullan, a researcher with the colleges, stated that even though water quality has been improving in recent years, there are still areas in which sewage is still being dumped into the river. These locations are either waste treatment plants that are not functioning properly or the transport system of pipes that are breaking down and leaking sewage. O’Mullan gave this message to Rockland, “Residents can use the information available to make informed decisions about recreation and push local officials to focus on infrastructure so there are no longer problems that need to be corrected.” Congresswoman Lowey said that the loss of budget to the Lower Hudson Valley’s infrastructure will result in a lack of jobs and that the matter is not about party gaps, but about working together as communities to fight for funding. According to Lowey the benefits to science research, jobs, and health safety are too important and we must end the senseless budget cuts. When asked how the new study would affect the planned Desalinization Plant, Congresswoman Lowey told WRCR, “It is being studied and many citizens have asked for more work. Right now discussions will continue and more information may be found.”

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