Contact: Rachel Dejean, 202-740-0655
AMSTERDAM, NY—Congressman Paul D. Tonko, Chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, welcomed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan to the Capital Region this week to attend a series of events showcasing key priorities the Congressman has championed on clean water infrastructure, scientific integrity and environmental justice.
“Delivering meaningful, effective legislation and policies requires firsthand knowledge of the pressing challenges our communities face everyday,” Congressman Tonko said. “During Administrator Regan’s visit, I was able to share some of those key challenges, including drinking water infrastructure and environmental justice, as well as highlight the many local leaders, experts and community activists who are working tirelessly to address these needs in our region. These powerful conversations fill my voice in Washington. I look forward to working alongside the Administrator to develop solutions that not only benefit our Capital Region, but pave a path for our nation to be cleaner, more resilient and more just for us all.”
“The work we’re doing at EPA has significant impacts on people and communities. I appreciated the chance to visit the Albany area and I am grateful for Congressman Tonko’s leadership and engagement on environmental justice, scientific integrity, lead in drinking water and climate change. I’ll be taking what I saw and heard back to the EPA team so we can carry the voices of this community forward in our efforts,” said Administrator Michael S. Regan.
Rep. Tonko hosted Administrator Regan on a series of visits around the Capital Region, that included:
- A roundtable conversation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with President Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson and local scientists about the importance of scientific integrity in driving local and federal policy, and Rep. Tonko’s efforts to advance his Scientific Integrity Act.
“When science is funded by the citizens of the United States, or any country, they should expect true scientific integrity in return for their investment—and should have confidence that policy-making is guided by the evidence revealed in scientific study,” said Dr. Jackson. “When American citizens lack confidence in the scientific soundness of their government’s policies and recommendations, the costs can be very high, as they have been during this pandemic. It is up to our political leaders and federal scientists, in concert, to inspire trust.”
As president of Rensselaer, Dr. Jackson leads an institute with $104 million in research expenditures in 2020. Her background includes service on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the Comptroller General Advisory Board of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, an organization which in 2019 found that a number of federal agencies were not doing enough to achieve their scientific integrity policy objectives.
- A site visit to a property undergoing a lead service line replacement in the city of Albany to learn more about the financial implications of local water infrastructure programs and to highlight the need for drinking water investments in the local community.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “Across the country, millions of homes still receive drinking water through lead services lines. It is estimated 40% of homes in Albany fall into this category, and what’s worse is the problem has long had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. While the Albany Water Department continues to ensure our water system is compliant with all lead regulations, we want to ensure we are removing these lead service lines by 2040 and that’s why our Lead Service Replacement Grant Program is so important. Since taking office, my administration has invested more than $60 million in water and sewer infrastructure improvements – a larger investment over the past 7 years than the 20 previous years combined – and this program is yet another example of my administration’s commitment to equitably investing in our City’s infrastructure. Thank you to Congressman Tonko and EPA Administrator Regan for sharing the same sense of urgency around replacing lead service lines across Albany and our country.”
“I want to thank Congressman Tonko, an engineer by trade, for being a tried-and-true advocate for infrastructure improvement. This funding is instrumental in our efforts to ensure that all communities have clean drinking water. Too many families are affected by outdated systems. It's great to see the health of residents being made a priority through replacement projects currently underway in Albany,” said Albany County Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce.
- An environmental justice discussion at Ezra Prentice Homes hearing insights from residents and sharing federal efforts to address historic injustices and support for investments in public health protections and pollution reductions in the communities that need them most.
“The Ezra Prentice Tenant Association greatly appreciate Congressman Tonko and his special guest Administrator Michael S. Regan from the Environmental Protection Agency for taking the time out to visit Ezra Prentice, a community that is directly affected by environmental and economic injustices. We hope that this is a start for a better and safe future for the Ezra Prentice community as well as the south end,” the Ezra Prentice Tenant Association stated.