November 13, 2006 - Issue: Vol. 152, No. 127 — Daily Edition109th Congress (2005 - 2006) - 2nd Session
LONG ISLAND SOUND STEWARDSHIP ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 152, No. 127
(Senate - November 13, 2006)
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[Page S10866] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] LONG ISLAND SOUND STEWARDSHIP ACT Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I rise to celebrate final passage of the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act. I am proud to have coauthored and introduced this bill in the Senate in April 2004. This body passed the bill that October, but then the bill died in the House. So we reintroduced it in the Senate last January, and Representative Rob Simmons reintroduced its House companion. The House passed its bill on Wednesday, and we in the Senate have just followed suit. Now the bill will go to the President, who is expected to sign it into law without delay. Today's final passage will ensure expanded protection and restoration of a national treasure. A healthy Long Island Sound is crucial to our region's economy, quality of life, and heritage. I am deeply gratified that Congress has acted to support a new way for communities and citizens to work together to preserve this ecologically important estuary for years to come. The Long Island Sound Stewardship Act, or LISSA, will help protect the sound by providing financial incentives for land owners within the sound area to preserve the environmental quality of and public access to this endangered habitat. Long Island Sound is a unique estuary with profound economic, ecological and cultural importance for the United States. This critical resource contributes approximately $6 billion annually to the economy of the region, and it is especially important to the tens of millions of people who live within 50 miles of its shores. We have come a long way in restoring the Sound and its rich biodiversity. Take, for example, the osprey--a bird that has come to symbolize the Sound. In 1940, there were approximately 1,000 osprey nests along the Sound shoreline. But by 1974, pollution reduced the number of osprey nests to just nine. Because of proactive conservation measures, the osprey has rebounded. That is real progress. Despite our efforts, however, the sound remains in a diminished condition. It suffers from hypoxia, habitat loss, and contamination by toxic substances, pathogens, and solid waste, all of which negatively affect the health of all the organisms, including humans, who live in or near the sound. I have been working to defend the sound since I arrived in the Senate. In 1989, I sponsored legislation that established a Long Island Sound office within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA's Long Island Sound Office went on to identify the sound region as vulnerable to degradation and, with my support, established the Long Island Sound Study to develop a plan for protecting the sound. In 2000, I kicked off a ``Listen to the Sound'' campaign, which focused on establishing a comprehensive network of open space and natural areas along the sound's rim, as well as creating more opportunities for public access and habitat restoration. More than 1,500 Connecticut and New York residents attended those meetings. In 2002, the EPA released the results of its Long Island Sound study, which concluded that coordinated action to save the sound was necessary. Building on several of the EPA study's recommendations and on feedback from my Listen to the Sound meetings, I introduced LISSA in April 2004 with Senators Dodd, Schumer, and Clinton as cosponsors. LISSA establishes a broad-based Long Island Sound Stewardship Advisory Committee comprised of all sound stakeholders, including Federal, State, local governments, tribal interests, nongovernmental organizations, academic interests, private interests including land, agriculture, and business interests, and recreational and commercial fishing interests. The advisory committee is charged with evaluating the parcels of land within the sound region and recommending crucial parcels for designation by the Environmental Protection Agency as Stewardship Sites eligible for special preservation funds. LISSA authorizes $25 million per year for fiscal years 2007 through 2011 to the EPA Administrator to carry out this act. By enacting this legislation, we aim to preserve the natural beauty and ecological wonder of this majestic waterway between New York and Connecticut. LISSA will ensure that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the sound's beauty, ecology, and recreational opportunities. In closing, I wish to acknowledge the many Long Island Sound advocates in Connecticut and New York who have worked so hard to achieve today's great success. ____________________