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Queens leaders pass legislation to protect Jamaica Bay

South Queens lawmakers have once again passed legislation that would further protect Jamaica Bay. (QNS file photo)

Two Queens lawmakers applauded the passage of their legislation that would protect the pristine waters of Jamaica Bay, which has become home to marine life not seen in decades.

Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato and state Senator Joseph Addabbo vowed to navigate the measure through both chambers of the Legislature for a fourth time after Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed the bill three times in past legislative sessions.

“The priority and necessity of this bill is clear. My colleagues in the Assembly see the value of this bill, and the importance of protecting our environment,” Pheffer Amato said. “Both houses have passed this bill for three sessions in a row, only for Governor Cuomo to veto it. It’s more important than ever to invest in Jamaica Bay and ensure that our standards are up to the highest standards, and we can never turn back.”

The legislation would increase the standard of dredging materials placed into Jamaica Bay’s borrow pits which are also known as a sandbox. It is an area where material such as soil, gravel or sand has been dug up for use at another location.

In his last veto statement on the bill, 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. Under the legislation, the state Department of Environmental Conservation would be required to utilize more restrictive and costly federal ocean dumping criteria to test the materials instead of DEC’s existing standard.

“In recent years, Jamaica Bay has seen a resurgence of marine wildlife due to cleaner and healthier waters. However, our efforts to protect the bay is not over,” Addabbo said. “Bill S.2205/A.453 seeks to further protect Jamaica Bay by strengthening the protections of the bay’s waters with stricter restrictions on what kind of materials are allowed to be used to fill the borrow pits. We hope to see this bill pass so future generations can benefit from this vital waterway. We hope Governor Cuomo will sign this important bill into law.”

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

“I want to thank Senator Addabbo for his partnership on this legislation, and to the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and numerous civic leaders and organizations for their advocacy.”

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