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New York/New Jersey Harbor Dredging Announcement

05/07/1997
                 Carol M. Browner, Administrator
              U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


                  Remarks Prepared for Delivery
        New York/New Jersey Harbor Dredging Announcement
                          May 7, 1997



     Thank you, Senator Toricelli.  It is a pleasure to join you and Congressmen Pallone and Menendez for this announcement today.  I want to commend each of you for the strong support you have given our efforts to address the challenges concerning the environmentally sound dredging of the Port of New York and New Jersey.

     Last July, Vice President Gore announced the administration's plan regarding dredging in the Port of New York and New Jersey -- one designed to protect public health, the environment and the economic health of the region.  Today we take another step in honoring that commitment.

     I know that there is a great deal of concern in New Jersey coastal communities about the public health effects of ocean dumping of dredged material.  I know there are concerns about the potential long-term effects on New Jersey's beaches, its estuaries and the fish and wildlife that depend on their health.  We understand and appreciate these concerns.

     One of the Clinton administration's fundamental principles is that environmental protection and economic progress go hand-in-hand.  We do not have to choose between our health and our jobs.  In fact, the two are inextricably linked.

     This principle is embodied in the actions we are announcing today -- actions that are good for the environment and good for the economy:

     EPA has signed a proposed rule, to be published next week, that would close the Mud Dump Site offshore and, at the same time, designate a larger offshore area in which environmental contaminants will be covered with material for remediation.

     Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers has announced decisions on additional permits for harbor dredging, enabling these dredging activities to get underway.

     These actions build on other recent initiatives by EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, other federal agencies and local officials -- all of them designed to address the need for dredging the New York and New Jersey Harbor in the most environmentally sound manner.

     EPA has clarified ocean-dumping testing requirements, to help assure that they are based on sound policy and science.

     Both EPA and the Corps have advanced efforts to identify potential alternatives for ocean dumping and promote decontamination technologies for dredged material -- with EPA spending several million dollars to support development of these technologies.

     All along, this has been a cooperative effort involving all interested stakeholders -- businesses, labor organizations and environmental groups.  I salute everyone who has been involved in the process.

     We still face difficult challenges ahead.  We must redouble our efforts to work cooperatively to assure that long-term, environmentally-sound and economically-sound alternatives are put in place.

     For instance, EPA has recently approved the harbor estuary plan, which identifies necessary efforts to control the sources of harbor sediment contamination.  If we can clean up our harbors, we won't have to worry as much about contamination in the materials we dredge from them.

     I know that, working together, we can continue to make progress toward protecting public health, the environment and the health of our economy.

     Again, I thank Senator Toricelli and Congressmen Pallone and Menendez for their strong support of these efforts.

     I am delighted to turn the floor over to Congressman Pallone.