NY state gives up plan to use clean-water loans on Tappan Zee Bridge after EPA balks again

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ALBANY, New York — The state is dropping its attempt to secure half a billion dollars in federal clean-water funds to help pay for the new Tappan Zee Bridge after the Environmental Protection Agency again rejected most of the proposal.

In an agreement announced Tuesday, the EPA will approve another $1.3 million in clean-water loans for the bridge, bringing the total amount authorized in loans to more than $30 million. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration will drop its objections to the federal government's refusal to approve its entire $511 million request.

Cuomo's administration had hoped to use the loans to help pay for the $3.9 billion bridge now under construction over the Hudson River. The loans are typically used to finance sewers and drinking water projects.

The state's proposal angered environmentalists, who said clean-water money shouldn't pay for bridge construction. It also concerned the EPA, which announced last fall that it would approve only $29 million for work related to the bridge. The state appealed the decision.

The resolution was announced in a statement put out by the EPA and the state's Department of Environmental Conservation.

"It is behind us, and we look forward to working closely with the state in the future," regional EPA Administrator Judith Enck said.

She said the agreement ensures the money will be available to address the state's clean-water infrastructure needs.

Environmental groups hailed the agreement.

"This agreement follows the science and federal law," said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York. "Now the state can focus on the task at hand — expediting efforts to move funds ... so that communities can get down to work fixing their pipes."

The additional $1.3 million in loans announced Tuesday will pay for oyster bed restoration and a box for nesting falcons near the bridge. The $29 million authorized last year will support marsh restoration, stormwater management and other smaller projects related to the construction.

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