Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said on Tuesday he will do everything he can to make sure New York’s polluted waterways, like the Gowanus Canal, are not left by the wayside if the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts and staff reductions are approved.
Schneiderman, speaking on Tuesday on the banks of the Gowanus Canal, an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site, said he encourages members of Congress to reject proposed budget cuts and added he’d take legal action if necessary.
“It’s a clear, targeted attack on decades of environmental progress in an effort to set us back,” he said, adding: “We are here, in part, because we want to make sure that people understand what it was like, how much better it is, and the fact that we have a strong commitment to fight at every level.”
The proposed cuts include a 30% decrease in Superfund site cleanup funding, according to Schneiderman’s office. Once an area is designated as a Superfund site, the “polluters” of the site are the ones who ultimately pay for the cleanup efforts. Federal dollars are used to monitor and approve each stage of that cleanup.
The Gowanus Canal was first placed on the agency’s National Priorities List in 2010. The responsible parties under the Superfund system include the city and National Grid, according to the EPA.
A representative with the EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
City Council member Brad Lander, whose district includes the Gowanus Canal, said he will keep pushing for the city to make the canal even cleaner than the EPA’s program would require.
“We’re going to keep pushing after Superfund to keep getting it cleaner so that yes, people can boat on it and eventually can swim in it and fish it,” he said.