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Hawkins Says Cuomo Needs to Repair Damage he caused in Adirondack Waters in Post-Irene Recovery
"The appearance of Governor Cuomo in the Adirondacks today unfortunately reminds us of the unnecessary destruction that was done to untold streams following Hurricane Irene due to Governor Cuomo's unwise waiving of environmental protections in the recovery effort. The state needs to revive its emergency response plan to ensure that such mistakes are not repeated in the future," said Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor.
Hawkins said that the Governor and state environmental officials should issue regular reports outlining the status of the recovery efforts of these critical water resources. This includes efforts to restore the habitat of streams and creeks so that fish can be restocked.
"Unfortunately, Governor Cuomo and his administration has the tendency to view environmental regulations as overzealous paperwork and bureaucracy that can be disregarded at will. We need a Governor who understands that strong environmental protection is about protecting the quality of life for our state residents while helping to create jobs. More recently we have seen such disregard with respect to the expansion of oil trains at the Port of Albany," said Hawkins. A demonstration about the oil trains is being held today at the Governor's mansion in Albany.
On September 26, 2011, a broad coalition of Adirondack environmental protection groups wrote to Cuomo outlining their concerns. Unfortunately, the damage also extended to water bodies in the Catskill and other parts of the Hudson Valley. A few sections are listed below:
"This appeal grew out of the shocking destruction of the river beds by the State's Department of Transportation in the wake of Hurricane Irene," stated Dan Plumley, partner with Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve. "The work being done – well intended as it may be – is turning several river and stream sections into storm water dikes the likes of which you might find in urbanized Los Angeles. The natural features have been decimated, and future floods will be made even worse because of it. (Times Union http://bit.ly/1qo6Wov)
"Your decision on September 2, 2011 to authorize emergency work within streams and rivers in the Adirondacks, however, has had the unintended consequence of allowing destructive activity in some of our world famous Adirondack trout streams that is not "immediately necessary to address an imminent threat to life, health, property, the general welfare and natural resources" as your temporary authorization requires.
"First, we respectfully ask that you direct Commissioner McDonald and Martens to immediately stop the use of heavy equipment in our streams and rivers. The waiver of environmental permitting under your authorization, the indiscriminate use of General Permits, and little or no inter-disciplinary monitoring has had a devastating impact on our river and stream environments and needs to be rescinded immediately.
"State and local agencies, unaware of the damage they are causing, have inadvertently destroyed habitats, polluted our rivers and violated rules and laws, including the specific controls listed in the temporary authorization. The dredging, deepening, grading, and diking of these beautiful trout streams is going on each day in the Adirondack Park and North Country. We understand and are also concerned that similar damage to river, stream and trout habitat may also be occurring in the Catskills as well.
"This activity is degrading the very rivers that are essential to our economy and quality of life. We know that is not your intention, but we want you to know that these actions are not healing our communities, post flood. These actions are not accomplishing your goals to restore our towns. Instead, these actions are destroying a critical tourism resource on which our economies in the Adirondack Park rely."