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Environmentalists Pen Green Questions for 24th District Congressional Candidates

Members of various Syracuse-area environmental groups gathered today to create a list of questions and issues they’d like to see addressed by the 24th district congressional candidates.  They plan to forward them to the five media outlets hosting debates leading up to election day. 

Olivia Green is a water resource specialist with the Atlantic States Legal Foundation.  She wants to know where John Katko and Colleen Deacon stand when it comes to non-point source pollution. 

“Things that storm water picks up as it goes along rural and urban and suburban areas," Green said. "The storm water then gets discharged into our waters and a lot of people are surprised to learn that those are barely even mentioned in the Clean Water Act.  It’s not even defined in the Clean Water Act. To real clean up our waters, non-point source pollution really needs to start being dealt with and regulated.”

Green says the goal of the Clean Water Act of 1972 was to make the nation’s waters swimmable and fishable by 1985.   While she acknowledges there has been progress, Green says we’re clearly not there yet. 

Architect Bob Haley has been heavily involved in meetings about transportation planning, specifically the I-81 project.  He wants to know how candidates might fill the gap in plans that call for more speed and traffic volumes through cities…when the trend is to knit them back together with slower speeds and more access.

Olivia Green discussed non-point source pollution.

“Look at the long term standards that the DOT is using to design these highways for the next 50 years," Haley said. "When in fact transportation modes are changing, fuels economies are changing, mass transit is changing. And all of those need to be brought in immediately to the current designers of our future infrastructure.”

Haley says the federal DOT seems to acknowledge a change in direction, but is concerned it might not find its way down to the state level and the I-81 project.  

Bob Haley explains the change in direction the Federal DOT wants to occur.

Air pollution is on the mind of Elizabeth Mount Pleasant, who’s with the group JAMPAC in Jamesville.  She wants to know the candidates’ positions on using incineration to burn trash like the facility on Rock Cut Road, and how it impacts nearby communities.

“It could be perhaps a civil rights issue because being built in a canyon there, when we don’t have a wind all the stuff goes down to the south side of Syracuse. “

Others want to know where Deacon and Katko stand on limiting CO2 emissions and a carbon tax based on energy use.  

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at