Attorney: AG is wrong, Gowanus Canal cleanup won’t be affected by Trump’s EPA cuts

It's a wash: Crews started pulling up junk from the Gowanus Canal last year.
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It is fake ooze!

President Trump’s proposal to slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget will not bog down the federal cleanup of the slimy Gowanus Canal, despite state Attorney General Schneiderman’s recent claims to the contrary, claims an environmental law expert with ties to the project.

“This seems to be a little bit of fake news on the part of the attorney general,” said attorney Larry Schnapf, the New York State Bar Association’s environmental-law guru, whose clients include a developer building on a brownfield site along the waterway.

Schneiderman and local pols held a press conference at the Superfund site on Tuesday where he claimed The Donald’s plan to slash staffing numbers at the agency will result in less oversight and fewer administrators to scrub the toxic waste and gonorrhea out of Brooklyn’s Nautical Purgatory.

“The cleanup of the Gowanus Canal could be slowed by these cutbacks,” he said. “The administration could delay further proceedings.”

But Schnapf says the work required to get the ball rolling is already done — the cleanup officially began in October last year — so the project should move forward regardless of any staffing cuts, echoing assurances a rep from the agency made at a community meeting in January.

Schneiderman is right to be concerned that cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency could stymie other cleanups that aren’t so far along, the legal eagle said — just not this one.

“I think his concerns are generally well placed, but to use the Gowanus Canal as an example is not accurate,” he said.

Money for the canal’s cleanse — paid for by those that polluted the waterway in the first place — is in a separate fund and should be unaffected by the federal budget, he said.

Councilman Brad Lander (D–Gowanus) argued at the presser that the polluters could still squirm out of coughing up the cash because they still haven’t signed the paperwork putting themselves on the hook to pay.

But Schnapf thinks it’s unlikely the two main responsible parties — the city and National Grid — will risk shirking their responsibilities. The utility giant has already hiked its rates last year to pay for its many Superfund obligations around the city.

“They’re still liable parties and the EPA could always sue them to do the work,” he said. “I don’t think they’d want to be put in that position.”

Of course, Congress controls the federal purse strings and it is too soon to tell if the budget cuts will actually go ahead, as some Republicans have already come out against the scrounging.

Workers began preparing the canal for dredging last year, and are slated to start scooping up gunk from the water later this year, but the entire cleanup process won’t be done until 2022 — assuming everything goes to schedule.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency declined to comment.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Charles from Bklyn says:
Trust the Attorney General, who is fighting everyday for the people of New York, or the developer''s attorney. Yeh, tough choice. I'm going with the AG, because I am not a stupid idiot.
March 27, 2017, 7:49 am
David O'Sirus, esq. from Gowanus Canal says:
There is a Community Advisory Group meeting open to the public at 6:30 tomorrow...
Come if you care!
March 27, 2017, 11:26 am
Gowanusuan from Gowanus says:
Which Brownfield development property does he represent on the Gowanus? The one owned by Trump's son-in-law Kushner? Dude seems to have a hidden agenda, because he is contradicting what he said earlier, to another reporter:
March 27, 2017, 12:31 pm
Meh from Gowanus says:
Nice to see the developers' attorney step up to bat for the community! They have the time, incentive, and deep pockets to do the heavy lifting to make sure this stays on track. Of course if the EPA ceases to exist who will administer the clean up or secure a storage place for the sludge once it's decontaminated?
March 27, 2017, 12:42 pm
George from Brooklyn says:
This article is pretty flawed. It gives a platform to a shady lawyer, whose connections to neighborhood developers are unclear. Schnapf, a private lawyer making money from developers, is not a credible source, especially when compared to Attorney General Schneiderman. Better journalism next time, please.
March 27, 2017, 12:44 pm
John from Sunset Park says:
Who is going to clean up the Attorney General?
March 27, 2017, 1:08 pm
Barry from Flatbush says:
You can always trust a development weasel when they tell you that staffing cuts and budget cuts won't impact the speed and quality of a project.
March 27, 2017, 3:44 pm
Gary from Fort Greene says:
Note that Schneiderman, weasel that he is, used his favorite weasel word: "COULD [not will]" affect the cleanup. He would recite the phone book backwards if it would get him air time. Schneiderman is in it for himself, and anything he does that benefits NY residents or consumers is totally by accident.
March 27, 2017, 6:19 pm
Joe from Gowanus says:
Superfund cleanup complete 2022
City's sewer upgrade timeline 2028
= 6 years of pollution after EPA leaves!

Stupid like a box of chocolates
March 27, 2017, 8:08 pm
Honeycita Rodriguez from Sunset Park says:
So Mr. Trump won't fix it with his big, fancy money because this project is "too dirty for a very rich man"?! Well I have news for you - while you were busy deporting Mexicans, this river just got even dirtier! Who do you think is going to clean it up?
March 27, 2017, 9:07 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
Just as you would not find coffee DNA in cup of roasted and brewed coffee, you would not find the DNA of echinacea, for instance, in an echinacea extract, due to processing. (DNA is easily destroyed). Yet, Schneiderman went after the entire supplements market on the basis that the DNA could not be found in most of the supplement products.
Since, Walmart and GNC have NOT been sued into oblivion and Schneiderman has quietly settled with them. (Remember how there was going to be a congressional hearing. Many state AGs were going to sign on etc. etc.)
To this day, Schneiderman's office refuses to release the methodology (faulty) of their studies.

So, no I'm not going to believe anything this big pharma DNC tool has to say.
March 27, 2017, 9:51 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
Please tell us about schneiderman's claims to credibility.
March 27, 2017, 9:54 pm
ty from pps says:
it's bush's fault.
March 28, 2017, 8:16 am
I trust Schneiderman over a developer anytime. Developers are only out for themselves and AG's fight for the people.
March 29, 2017, 12:10 pm
RJ from Crown Heights says:
Funny thing there about who's paying for the cleanup. The reporter repeats uncritically that the lawyer says, "Money for the canal’s cleanse — paid for by those that polluted the waterway in the first place--is in a separate fund and should be unaffected by the federal budget," and paraphrases him saying "The utility giant has already hiked its rates last year to pay for its many Superfund obligations around the city." Yes, *ratepayers* are paying, not "National Grid," or to be more exact, its shareholders, for polluting done long ago and had nothing to do with the pollution. Oh, and the state Public Service Commission approved this increase.
March 29, 2017, 2:20 pm
Valeria Sowell from ENY/Canarsie says:
Greetings Leaders: It's too late in the hour to call Rotor Ruter for this matter. The next step is to call in the National Guards. Humm. Think you!
March 30, 2017, 12:06 am

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