East Hampton Environmental Coalition Urges Town Board Candidates To Address Green Issues

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With Election Day nearing, East Hampton environmental advocates are urging the Town Board candidates to think green.

The East Hampton Environmental Coalition, a group of several local environmental organizations, gathered outside Town Hall under the noon sun on Friday to voice the need for candidates to tackle key issues, such as groundwater and surface water, hazard mitigation and coastal policy, dark skies, quiet skies and habitat protection and stewardship.

The group has distributed to the candidates a 28-question survey on the topics that also asks them to describe their environmental credentials and philosophies. Responses are due by Friday, October 11, and will be posted, in their unedited entirety, on the East Hampton page of the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund website.

The coalition has also released the “2013 East Hampton Green Guide: a primer on sustainability policy for candidates,” which describes each of the same topics and offers a bulleted action plan for each.

For groundwater and surface water, for example, it explains how Long Island’s shallowest aquifer has been shown in studies to be no longer safe to drink, yet remains a major source of fresh water flowing into the bays and harbors, and how nitrogen pollution kills local seagrass meadows that nurture economically vital fish and shellfish. Part of the action plan is to prioritize the wastewater treatment plan.

“If you step back in time a little bit, you may remember that when the town adopted its comprehensive plan the last time around, it was a very strong effort made to create sort of a citizen-driven agenda for environmental protection across the town,” said Bob DeLuca, president of The Group for the East End, at the press conference outside Town Hall. “Well, the economy has happened to this town like a lot of places, and that agenda has slipped off the front burner, which is exactly why we’re here, to try to put it back on.”

Suffolk County says our water quality is declining consistently, he said. The East End has a great concentration of private wells, and the bays and harbors are stressed with brown, red and rust tides, as well as toxic blue-green algae.

Jeremy Samuelson, the executive director of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, spoke about Superstorm Sandy, climate change and sea-level rise.

“Right now, I would argue that a year after Hurricane Sandy, we have all of the same problems and no more solutions than we had a year ago,” he said, “and as long as that remains the case, then our way of life, our economic viability and our habitat are all imperiled.”

The other groups in the coalition include the Accabonac Protection Committee, Amagansett Springs Aquifer Protection, Clearwater Beach Association, Dark Sky Society, Garden Club of East Hampton, Northwest Alliance, Quiet Skies Coalition, Surfrider Foundation and Third House Nature Center, and most were represented at the press conference. The Peconic Baykeeper was listed in the coalition in the Green Guide, but not on the survey.

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