Friday, February 01, 2008

New York Wants to Help Westchester County Meets Its Obligation to Help Clean Up Long Island Sound

I don't see why, if New York City gets an extra three years to meet its nitrogen reduction goal, Westchester shouldn't get the same extension. It's not fair to Connecticut, of course, where exemplary communities like Stamford and Norwalk exceeded the 2014 goal of 58.5 percent reduction in nitrogen years ago, but it's hard to argue that a three-year delay is fine for New York City and its massive nitrogen input but not OK for Westchester with its much smaller nitrogen input.

But after reading this story about Governor Spitzer meeting with Westchester officials, I wonder just how much more time the state will grant Westchester and whether it's really the first step toward letting Westchester County off the hook in terms of its sewage upgrade responsibilities. I agree completely with Nancy Seligson:

Nancy Seligson, a Mamaroneck town councilwoman who is active in the bi-state and federal effort to clean the Sound, said more time would help, but she stressed that the focus should be on finding state and federal money for the work, not to evade the requirement altogether.

"I think it's fine if they could have additional time to try and figure out less expensive ways to accomplish the nitrogen reductions, but I still think the nitrogen reductions have to happen," she said.

One other point worth making about the news story. The phrase "state-mandated" makes it sound as if Westchester County was reluctantly dragged into this from the beginning. While it's certainly true that the previous county administration did everything in its power to resist upgrading sewage plants, the current administration campaigned on a "clean up the Sound" platform. So even though technically the upgrade is a state mandate, it was agreed to in cooperation with Connecticut and the US EPA, and Westchester County was strongly in favor of it, until they saw how much it was going to cost.

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