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Congressman Zeldin calls for fully funded estuary programs

KELLY ZEGERS PHOTO : Congressman Lee Zeldin at Veterans Beach in Mattituck Monday morning.
KELLY ZEGERS PHOTO : Congressman Lee Zeldin at Veterans Beach in Mattituck Monday morning.

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) on Monday called on his colleagues in Congress to ensure continued funding for the National Estuary and Long Island Sound programs in upcoming appropriations votes.

This week, Congress expects to see initial drafts of President Donald Trump administration’s budget requests, Mr. Zeldin said at a press conference at Veterans Beach in Mattituck, noting that the requests do not have force of law behind it.

“Regardless of who is in the White House, the Constitution puts government funding strictly under the control of Congress through the appropriations process,” he said.

Last year, $26 million was secured for the National Estuary Program, while $10 million for the Long Island Sound Program was not approved by the Senate, he said.

The programs together fund efforts to protect Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound from threats such as nitrogen, algae blooms, flooding and wetland loss. He said he is also calling for support of the Long Island Restoration and Stewardship Act, which would reauthorize funding toward the sound’s water quality and shoreline restoration.

The congressman said there have been rumors that there will be proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency in the president’s budget draft, but until sees it in writing, he said cuts can come from particular “pots of money.” A tentative plan from the Office of Management and Budget showed the EPA’s funding would be reduced by about 25 percent, the Associated Press reported earlier this month.

“It’s a possibility and it’s one that we want to get ahead of, lean in front of and put it on record that the Long Island Sound program and the national Estuary Program are two particular pots of money we want to see fully funded,” he said. He said he would be supportive of any idea to improve the EPA and noted he voted against a 17 percent funding cut to the agency last year.