Putnam Re-Launches Protection Against Counter-Measurement Flows
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Committee refuses to act on Montgomery alternative
Three weeks after Putnam lawmakers shelved a draft resolution asking the governor to veto a bill extending environmental protections to small creeks, a legislative committee revived the plea Aug. 25. , despite public opposition, and sent it to the entire legislature for action.
The Legislative Assembly will then convene on Tuesday (September 6).
The three-man Physical Services Committee unanimously approved the resolution after declining to act on an alternative proposed by Legislator Nancy Montgomery who supports the state legislation. Montgomery, whose district covers Philipstown and part of the Putnam Valley, is the only Democrat in the otherwise all-Republican nine-person legislature.
Before passing the resolution, the committee spent about 75 minutes largely listening to voters, who overwhelmingly opposed a veto. Lawmakers also received at least 75 letters from residents, including 11 from Philipstown, offering their support for the state legislation. Two city officials – Richard Othmer, the Kent Freeway Supervisor, and Jacqueline Annabi, the Putnam Valley Supervisor – wrote to say they did not believe state regulation was necessary.
Sponsored by State Senator Peter Harckham, a Democrat whose district includes East Putnam, state legislation would require projects affecting small (“Class C” streams, which are suitable for fishing but do not provide potable water) obtain permits from the State Department. of the preservation of the environment. Permits are required for Class A waterways, which provide drinking water, and Class B waterways, which the DEC says are suitable for swimming and fishing.
As of September 1, the legislature had not sent the bill to Governor Kathy Hochul for consideration. It passed in the Senate, 47-14, in May, with the support of Sue Serino, a Republican whose district includes the Highlands, and in the House, 114-33, in March, with “yes” votes from members Assemblyman Sandy Galef, whose district includes Philipstown and Jonathan Jacobson, whose district includes Beacon.
Putnam’s proposed resolution seeking a veto states that local soil and water conservation districts can protect waterways and that, while “well-meaning,” state legislation would “create the need for more 40 times more requests to go to the DEC. »
It also claims that obtaining permits already takes four to eight months and that “based on the current backlog and time for permitting,” state legislation “would delay projects by at least 26 month”. Additionally, the resolution argues that the state legislation would “adversely affect public and private infrastructure due to the effects of flooding.”
The New York State Association of Counties and groups representing county and city highway superintendents, the forest products industry and power companies also opposed the state legislation.
Environmental organizations including the Adirondack Mountain Club, Riverkeeper and The Nature Conservancy have called on Putnam to drop his opposition, with the latter noting that “nearly half of New York’s 90,846 miles of waterways are not not subject to the “stream protection provisions” of state law.
Montgomery’s alternative resolution describes state legislation as being designed to “protect water quality” as well as “protect public and private infrastructure by mitigating the impacts of flooding.”
How streams are categorized
B: Swimming, fishing
D: Agricultural, industrial
Gordons/Melzingah Brook (in part)
Squirrel Hollow Stream
Peekskill Hollow Stream
Stream of shoots
Gordons/Melzingah Brook (in part)
Source: CED (gisservices.dec.ny.gov)
Since Hochul recently lifted a state hiring freeze, the Department of Environmental Conservation “will be fully staffed” and able to handle more permits, its resolution said. In addition, he observed, local government highway departments and other entities, farms and emergency repairs to infrastructure near waterways are already “exempt from permit requirements”.
Montgomery’s resolution also said that local soil and water conservation districts needed the help and influence of DEC, and that “in the Hudson River watershed, at least 40% miles of streams lack protection” where encroachments have affected water quality.
Through state law, “we’re just trying to protect New Yorkers,” Montgomery said during the committee meeting. “We can all agree that we need to protect our water.”
But Brewster lawmaker Joseph Castellano countered that protecting waterways “is a local issue. Adding another layer of bureaucracy can have a negative effect.
Lawmaker Carl Albano of Carmel, who chairs the Physical Services Committee and has been professionally involved in construction projects, said “local environmental councils are doing a good job. They are sometimes exaggerated, but that’s a good thing. He proposed that state law be changed to address the concerns of critics.
Montgomery, a former Philipstown City Council member, replied, “I love home rule. But I don’t believe our water is properly protected, certainly not Class C waterways.” She recalled that although the New York State Counties Association had written to Hochul asking for a veto , “nobody [from NYSAC] commented on it when he was before the Assembly or the Senate.
In the audience, a woman asked, “Where have you all been?
“I wasn’t aware,” Albano replied.
“Water is probably the most important resource we have,” said a Putnam Valley resident. “We need more protections.”
A Carmel woman, saying officials in some localities seem unwilling to crack down on environmental crimes, agreed that “we need state oversight, state objectivity, to enforce this “.
Opposing the state initiative “sends a terrible message,” one man added. “It seems that water quality is taking a back seat to politics. I support Legislator Montgomery’s resolution.
But the committee approved the pro-veto version.