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Congressman Joe Courtney

Representing the 2nd District of Connecticut

Connecticut And Rhode Island Congressional Delegations Write To EPA In Support Of Eastern Long Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Site

July 18, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Representative Joe Courtney (CT-02), along with Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), John Larson (CT-01), James Langevin (RI-02), Jim Himes (CT-04), David Cicilline (RI-01), and Elizabeth Esty (CT-05) sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to express their support for the proposed rule to designate a new Eastern Long Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Site (ELDS).

“As representatives from the region, we understand firsthand the importance of preserving and protecting the environment in and around the Sound for future generations to enjoy,” wrote the members. “The environmental soundness of Long Island Sound dredging is a clear focus of the ELDS. The proposed rule is consistent with the federally-approved Coastal Zone Management Plans for New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Furthermore, it should be noted that without access to the ELDS, it is expected that transporting dredged materials to other sites, like the Rhode Island Disposal Site, will increase carbon emissions from ships and risk of dredged material spills as transport distance is extended. Our states have been responsibly dredging using open-water placement for 35 years and we believe that swift adoption of the ELDS, along with an increased effort to find sustainable on-land solutions for suitable dredged materials, will provide the Long Island Sound region with a balanced approach for future waterway maintenance projects.

“In addition to the critical goal of protecting Long Island Sound and its resources, access to ELDS is absolutely vital to the economy of our states and districts – and that of the entire Long Island Sound region. According to the aforementioned DMMP, economic activities that utilize Long Island Sound waterways contribute more than $9 billion annually in economic output. Additionally, these economic activities support more than 55,000 jobs in the Long Island Sound region. Our region is also host to a range of federal and military facilities dependent on the viability of accessible and cost-effective placement options. These include facilities like Naval Submarine Base New London and premier submarine builder Electric Boat, with facilities in both Connecticut and Rhode Island.”

To read a letter of support for the ELDS proposed rule from Groton SUBASE commander Captain A. Whitescarver, click here

To read a letter of support for the ELDS proposed rule from Electric Boat President Jeffrey Geiger, click here 

Following the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ final Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) issued in January, the EPA determined that a new site was necessary for long-term open-water dredged material disposal in the Long Island Sound region. The EPA is proposing the new ELDS because it provides the best option for minimal environmental impact. The two current dredging disposal sites in the area, Cornfield Shoals and New London, which are both short-term sites managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be closed.

The periodic dredging of harbors and channels is essential to ensuring safe navigation. All dredged material placed in the Sound must pass stringent EPA testing requirements to determine whether the material is toxic. Any material that does not pass these tests will not be eligible for open-water disposal in Long Island Sound. EPA will require similar restrictions for the ELDS as those that were recently finalized for central and western Long Island Sound disposal sites. The new restrictions notably include a mandate that alternative means for disposal of dredged material, such as beach nourishment, be used whenever practicable before turning to open-water disposal. 

The full text of the congressional delegation letter is available online and below:

July 18, 2016

The Honorable Gina McCarthy
Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460

Re: Proposed Rule for the Designation of the Eastern Long Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Site

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

We write to share our support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) proposed rule to designate a new Eastern Long Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Site (ELDS). Since the drafting of the Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) last year, stakeholders on the federal, state, and local levels have worked with the regional branches of the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that this comprehensive management framework shape the designation and management of our open-water disposal sites in Long Island Sound.

This is why we strongly support the approval of the EPA’s rule for the designation of the ELDS. The EPA’s preferred ELDS location, located south of the Thames River Estuary, would consolidate the current New London and Cornfield Shoals Disposal Sites into an area that is two square nautical miles and will be able to meet the dredging needs of eastern Long Island Sound for the next 30 years. As noted in the rule, designation of the ELDS would provide “an environmentally sound, open-water disposal option for possible use in managing dredged material from harbors and navigation channels in eastern Long Island Sound and its vicinity in the states of Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island.” We agree, and believe that approval of this designation is vital to the future of the Long Island Sound region.

While the ELDS and other open-water disposal sites are exceedingly important to maintaining the dredging needs of Long Island Sound, it is also important that we consider alternative placement of dredged material when appropriate. To that end, this proposed rule continues the effort of the DMMP to identify and evaluate environmentally sound, on-land disposal options for certain dredging projects. In fact, in our region, dredged materials have not only been used for shoreline replenishment, but also for capping landfills and brownfields sites upland.

As representatives from the region, we understand firsthand the importance of preserving and protecting the environment in and around the Sound for future generations to enjoy. The environmental soundness of Long Island Sound dredging is a clear focus of the ELDS. The proposed rule is consistent with the federally-approved Coastal Zone Management Plans for New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Furthermore, it should be noted that without access to the ELDS, it is expected that transporting dredged materials to other sites, like the Rhode Island Disposal Site, will increase carbon emissions from ships and risk of dredged material spills as transport distance is extended. Our states have been responsibly dredging using open-water placement for 35 years and we believe that swift adoption of the ELDS, along with an increased effort to find sustainable on-land solutions for suitable dredged materials, will provide the Long Island Sound region with a balanced approach for future waterway maintenance projects.

In addition to the critical goal of protecting Long Island Sound and its resources, access to ELDS is absolutely vital to the economy of our states and districts – and that of the entire Long Island Sound region.  According to the aforementioned DMMP, economic activities that utilize Long Island Sound waterways contribute more than $9 billion annually in economic output. Additionally, these economic activities support more than 55,000 jobs in the Long Island Sound region. As important, our region is host to a range of federal and military facilities dependent on the viability of accessible and cost-effective placement options. These include facilities like Naval Submarine Base New London and premier submarine builder Electric Boat, with facilities in both Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Approving the ELDS is of critical importance to support navigation-dependent industries that border and traverse eastern Long Island Sound. The proposal states that shipping bulk materials, petroleum fuels, recreational boating and fishing, commercial fishing, interstate ferry operations, and military navigation all lend a hand to the Long Island Sound region’s economic output. We must continue to embrace our maritime heritage and support this balanced, sustainable proposal to maintain our dredging needs.

We believe that this rule accomplishes this important goal, and we urge its adoption.

Sincerely,

 

Rep. Joe Courtney

Sen. Jack Reed

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse          

Sen. Richard Blumenthal

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy

Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro

Rep. John B. Larson

Rep. James R. Langevin

Rep. James A. Himes

Rep. David N. Cicilline

Rep. Elizabeth H. Esty