Ned should ask buddy Andrew to drop dredging case

We learned on Tuesday that the Democratic governors of New York and Connecticut spent some time fishing for fat steelhead trout on Lake Ontario, taking time to discuss issues of mutual interest.

Well, we hope one of the topics Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont brought up to N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo was his state’s unreasonable opposition to a federally approved dredging site in Long Island Sound, critical to this region’s maritime economy.

If the topic was too uncomfortable for the fishing excursion, Lamont should pick up the phone when he gets back from vacation.

It was Cuomo’s decision to file suit against the Environmental Protection Agency to prevent the use of the 1.3-square mile Eastern Long Island Sound Disposal Site, located between the mouth of the Thames River and the western tip of Fishers Island.

The easternmost site, one of three that got EPA approval in the Sound, is the only one New York is protesting. The central and western sites, which will use the same methods and restrictions, are apparently OK with New York, which would be more likely to use them for material removed from New York waterways. Disposal in the eastern site is expected to come mainly from Connecticut.

Submarines and surface ships traveling the Thames River to and from the submarine base, State Pier in New London and Electric Boat's shipyard in Groton need safe deep-water passage, which requires periodic dredging. Marinas — smaller businesses that together comprise a significant part of Connecticut's coastal economy — need to be able to dredge and dispose as well.

Connecticut and the EPA have taken reasonable steps to assuage New York’s concerns. EPA shrank the size of the original dredge plan from 2 square miles to the current 1.3, intended to now hold 20 million cubic yards of sediment instead of 27 million. The approved site is now entirely in Connecticut waters. Sediment would have to be analyzed for any toxic materials before being allowed to be dumped.

New York alleges that EPA cooked the data to make the plan acceptable, but Connecticut Attorney General William Tong notes that New York “cannot point to any relevant evidence contradicting the EPA’s record.”

New York calls for disposal on land, in part to help stem beach erosion. That should be pursued where it makes sense, but the volume of sediment is too great, and the cost often too high, for that solution alone.

Buddies who fish together should be able to land a settlement in this legal dispute.

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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