Tonko, local groups cheer House passage of NY-NJ Watershed bill – troyrecord


ALBANY, NY — Rep. Paul D. Tonko (D-Amsterdam) was joined by local groups and advocates recently to celebrate the House passage of his New York-New Jersey Watershed Protection Act.

He and supporting organizations gathered at Schodack Island State Park to speak on the importance of this bill in restoring these vital water resources and supporting their neighboring communities.

“Our waterways stand as economic drivers while also reflecting and upholding our rich history,” Tonko said. “The New York-New Jersey Watershed is America’s most populated, driving tourism and serving as a community treasure for millions of visitors and residents alike. Despite this, our Watershed remains underfunded and without key federal assistance, leaving it in greater danger from pollutants and at increased risk for floods that threaten public health, ecosystems, and industries.

“I’m proud to have worked closely with dozens of organizations and localities to develop my NY-NJ Watershed Protection Act that gives needed support to strengthen both our waterway and our communities. I will continue pushing to ensure that this bill crosses the finish line.”

For years, Tonko has introduced versions of this bill — previously known as the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin Act — which has garnered support from more than 50 local and national organizations. The bill would invest $20 million annually to advance community-led restoration projects, improve water quality, support frontline communities suffering from environmental injustice, and increase public access.

Last month’s passage marks the first time his legislation was advanced out of the House. The bill passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“Human activities such as dredging and channelizing our waterways and constructing impermeable riparian surfaces have been instrumental to the development of our nation’s economic interests, yet they also jeopardize critical fish and wildlife habitats and prevent equitable access to natural green spaces in many communities,” said Andy Bicking, director of Government Relations and Public Policy for Scenic Hudson. “Now, thanks to the leadership of Rep. Paul Tonko, and Senators Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Robert Menendez, we are turning the tide.

“The New York-New Jersey Watershed Protection Act will restore a balance in the benefits our waterways can provide and create new job, recreation, and tourism opportunities for the region and nation.”

“The Hudson River is an ecological wonder and home to the most populous and economically significant region in the country. The House passage of the NY-NJ Watershed Protection Act is a recognition of the vibrant and dogged efforts of forward thinking elected officials, local governments and organizations who have fought to bring the Hudson back from the brink. When passed in the Senate and funded in future appropriations, the NY-NJ Watershed Protection Act will provide needed funding and federal partnership to re-wild the Hudson, safeguard drinking water for the public, tackle environmental injustice, and increase public access. This legislation and its future programs will have a transformative impact on the Hudson River and our communities for years to come. Riverkeeper is grateful to Congressman Tonko for his work on developing this bill and his continued leadership in getting it passed into law,” Tracy Brown, President, Riverkeeper remarked.

“This legislation is a key part of funding research and scientifically-backed efforts that will make New York’s waterways more resilient to climate change. Our ecosystems are facing unprecedented challenges but this investment can help restore natural habitats, strengthen storm infrastructure, and support overburdened communities,” said Jonathan Kramer, President of the Hudson River Foundation,” Jonathan Kramer, President, Hudson River Foundation added.

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