Suozzi Introduces Three Pieces of Legislation to Better Protect Long Island and New York’s Environment

Since beginning public service, Suozzi has fought tirelessly to protect Long Island and New York’s environment.

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Photo by: Chris Boyle

Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island, Queens) has introduced three pieces of legislation that would promote environmental sustainability across New York and Long Island. As a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the chief tax-writing committee, Suozzi is able to advance legislation that would amend our tax code and offer incentives to homeowners, businesses, and state governments that promote environmental sustainability. 
“The most significant efforts our government has made to address climate change and promote green energy is through investments via tax and funding policy,” said Suozzi. “As a member of the chief tax-writing committee, I am in a unique position to work on legislation that promotes tax credits, funding, and subsidies for renewable and green energies.”
Since beginning public service, Suozzi has fought tirelessly to protect Long Island and New York’s environment. In 2008, the New York State League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) named him “Environmentalist of the Year. As a Member of Congress, he has increased funding to protect the Long Island Sound by nearly 800%, fought to keep the U.S. in the Paris Climate Accord, supports the Green New Deal, and through his efforts as chair of the Long Island Sound Caucus has helped drastically reduce the amount of nitrogen in the Long Island Sound.
Background on the three pieces of legislation introduce by Suozzi is found below:
Legislation to Federally Fund Septic System Replacement Programs
Currently, under the federally-run Clean Water State Resolving Fund (CWSRF) program – a federal-state partnership that provides communities with low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects – septic system replacement projects on Long Island rarely receive grants; they often only receive loans.
The legislation set to be introduced by Suozzi this week would allow septic system replacement programs in New York to receive more CWSRF grant money. Currently, states can give a portion of their CWSRF money in the form of “additional subsidization” (grants and not loans) for certain clean water projects, but septic system replacement programs rarely receive this funding. Congressman Suozzi’s bill would amend the CWSRF to allow states more flexibility to give these programs more grant money, opening up a federal funding stream for septic system replacement projects on Long Island. 
“Improving the quality of septic systems on Long Island has been a priority of mine for years,” said Suozzi. “In addition to introducing legislation that would help send federal funds to improve New York’s septic systems, I have also introduced legislation that would make sure New York homeowners are not forced to pay taxes on grants they receive when updating their septic systems.”
“Suffolk County’s leadership in efforts to better protect water quality is well-recognized and residents have strongly supported the movement to replace outdated cesspools and septic systems. This proposal would build on the efforts already underway using state and local funding, expanding those successful programs to make it possible for even more homeowners to participate,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
“The science is definitive- the sustainability of Long Island’s future depends on our ability to upgrade waste water treatment systems for homes and businesses. The good news is that we can restore our drinking and coastal waterways, but we need the funding to achieve this critical goal.   This is a common sense update to an essential federal program that will allow us to expedite replacing antiquated,  polluting septic and cesspool systems.  Protection of our water resources and the septic replacement programs program has strong public support and we are thankful that Congressman Suozzi is leading federal efforts to achieve the goal of clean water on Long Island,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
“Save the Sound strongly supports the proposed amendment to CWSRF that will provide needed funds to communities plagued by pollution from septic systems. Fecal bacteria and excess nitrogen from septic systems are entering groundwater and surface waters in communities across the country, degrading ecosystems, driving harmful algae blooms, contaminating drinking water supplies, and reducing coastal resiliency,” said Tracy Brown, Regional Director of Water Protection for Save the Sound. “We thank Congressman Suozzi for his leadership in protecting our waterways by helping communities get the new and improved septic systems that are now available in the ground, stemming the tide on this water pollution crisis.”
The Groundsource Exchange Tax (GET) Parity Act
The Groundsource Exchange Tax (GET) Parity Act would offer a 26% tax credit to companies that build and install geothermal heating and cooling systems in homes, putting it on par with the tax credit the solar industry currently receives. Under this proposed tax credit, these companies would be able to drastically lower their costs, allowing for more lower- and middle-class families to afford the installation of geothermal systems in their homes. Currently, companies that install these systems only receive a 10% tax credit, a rate much lower than the 30% companies that install solar industry panels have received.
“As new technology systems that promote environmental stability develop, we must make sure those systems are affordable,” said Suozzi. “Through this piece of legislation, the costs of that technology will drop dramatically for the average homeowner who wants to warm and cool their home in a more environmentally friendly way.”
“Geothermal is the most efficient solution to reducing carbon emissions from home heating and cooling. This legislation will finally level the playing field for geothermal—giving homeowners a clean option while creating jobs," said Michael Sachse, Dandelion CEO. "We are grateful to Congressman Suozzi for his leadership on this issue for climate, homeowners, and jobs."
The PAPER Act is bipartisan legislation that would disincentivize the burning of recyclable paper at waste-to-energy facilities. Currently, the federal tax code allows for waste-to-energy facilities to receive an incentive for the burning of recyclable paper mixed with waste. Under the PAPER Act, waste-to-energy facilities would not get a tax credit for burning recycled paper mixed with waste.
“Because of lack of clarity in the current tax code, many centers are incentivized to burn recyclable paper,” said Suozzi. “Recyclable paper is crucial for the preservation of our environment, but it doesn’t do much good if it’s being mixed in with waste and burnt.”