EPA cuts could hurt LI Sound restoration efforts

The Environmental Protection Agency could lose a big chunk of its funding if President Donald Trump's proposed 2018 budget passes, leaving a potentially serious impact on efforts to restore and protect the Long Island Sound.

The Environmental Protection Agency could lose a big chunk of its funding if President Donald Trump's proposed 2018 budget passes, leaving a potentially serious impact on efforts to restore and protect the Long Island Sound. (3/6/17)

OYSTER BAY - The Environmental Protection Agency could lose a big chunk of its funding if President Donald Trump's proposed 2018 budget passes, leaving a potentially serious impact on efforts to restore and protect the Long Island Sound.

Bayman Bill Fetzer, who has been digging in Oyster Bay for clams and oysters for more than 30 years, says the Long Island Sound is getting cleaner every year. That's why he and other baymen who are part of the North Oyster Bay Baymen's Association are closely watching 2018 budget cuts reportedly proposed by the Trump administration that will slash the EPA's budget by 25 percent and its staff by 20 percent.

Environmentalists say that if there are budget cuts to the EPA, it will affect efforts to protect Long Island water and air, including programs like the Long Island Sound Study, a federally funded initiative to restore and protect the sound.

Rep. Lee Zeldin's staff released a statement saying Trump's budget proposal has not yet been officially released, and that Zeldin "has not received any information from the administration that they are proposing an elimination to the Long Island Sound Restoration Program and hopefully any rumors to the contrary prove to be untrue."

Fetzer and the other baymen, who make their living on the water, say they hope the budget cuts will not be a step backward for clean water. Once the water quality goes south, that's when life disappears, Fetzer says.

The Trump administration's proposed 2018 budget is expected to add $54 billion to the defense budget -- money that could be taken from agencies such as the EPA.

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