Governor again vetoes Queens lawmakers’ bill to protect Jamaica Bay

Photo by Mark Hallum

Earlier this month, Governor Andrew Cuomo once again vetoed a bill sponsored by state Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato aimed at increasing the standard of dredging materials that are placed into Jamaica Bay’s borrow pits.

The two-part bill would end the sunset clause on the original bill to protect the bay, so it would be permanent law in New York state instead of being voted on every two years. It also seeks to change the criteria for filling the Jamaica Bay borrow pits to comply with federal Ocean Dumping Act criteria.

“Even though the governor vetoed this bill again, I intend on reintroducing it next year and then continue to negotiate with the state agencies,” Addabbo said. “After seeing the incredible improvement of the water quality of Jamaica Bay, with advocates saying the bay is the healthiest it has been in decades, and with the reemergence of marine wildlife to the area, Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato and I believe the sunset clause on this bill should be removed and it should be made permanent.”

Borrow pits, also known as a sandbox, is an area where material such as soil, gravel or sand has been dug up for use at another location. In a veto statement, Cuomo said the legislation would change the criteria for filling Jamaica Bay borrow pits to comply with the federal criteria for the unrestricted ocean dumping of dredged material, which is not applicable to Jamaica Bay.

“The battle is not yet over,” Pheffer Amato said. “While I am disappointed that Governor Cuomo has vetoed this crucial legislation for the protection of Jamaica Bay, I’m looking forward to the restart of the legislative session so we can reintroduce this bill, and work with Senator Addabbo and the governor’s office to finally get this through the finish line. I also want to thank all of the advocates that have tirelessly worked on behalf of Jamaica Bay, and let them know that our work is just beginning.”

Local community advocates, including the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, have praised the bill and how much it has improved the bay. Animals such as seals and even whales have been spotted off the shores.

“The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers will continue to fight to protect Jamaica Bay from contaminated dredge material,” Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers President Dan Mundy Jr. said. “Governor Cuomo needs to reverse his ill-advised position on this bill and lead the way to protect our only urban national park.”

Although the bill was vetoed for a second time, Addabbo is confident he’ll be able to negotiate with Cuomo and get the bill passed.

“I look forward to the upcoming session and the future discussions on ways to protect Jamaica Bay,” Addabbo said.

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