Serrano Questions EPA on School PCB Cleanup
At an Appropriations Committee hearing this week, Congressman Serrano questioned the Acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Bob Perciasepe, about what his agency was doing to ensure that New York City schools are rid of the toxic chemical PCB. In recent years, Congressman Serrano has been actively pushing the Bloomberg administration to clean out any fixtures that contain these highly toxic and dangerous carcinogens, which have been found in schools across the City.
In response to Serrano's questioning, Perciasepe agreed that a 10 year timeframe for ridding schools of these chemicals is far too long and detailed the EPA's efforts to speed up the process. He mentioned that the EPA has put their laboratories on the case, helping with testing and devising strategies to contain the chemicals until they are removed. Furthermore, he said his agency supports the efforts of Congressman Serrano and local groups to push the City to replace the light fixtures which contain the chemicals as soon as possible. He said the EPA had reported to the Department of Education that replacing the inefficient old contaminated fixtures would produce a net cost savings through lowered electricity use.
"I was pleased to hear that the EPA is addressing school-based PCB contamination and is actively supporting our efforts to rid the schools of these dangerous toxins as soon as possible," said Congressman Serrano. "The EPA takes this threat to our children's health very seriously and has deployed a variety of resources to ensure that there are no excuses for why the cleanup cannot be done quickly and thoroughly. We know these toxin pose a serious threat and we must move with all possible haste to replace anything in schools that contains them. I thanked the Acting Administrator for his agency's help and look forward to continuing our collaboration."
Serrano Defends SEC at Hearing
On Tuesday, Congressman Serrano defended the increased budget request by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and questioned new SEC Chairman Mary Jo White about the impact of budget cuts due to sequestration.
"The SEC is our "cop on the beat' for Wall Street, and its enforcement and oversight duties are critical for preventing another financial meltdown," said Serrano. "I am concerned that the cuts to the SEC's budget due to sequestration have come at the expense of these core roles. It is an unwise investment choice to reduce funding for an agency that plays a key role in ensuring a fair playing field in our financial markets."
Chairman White indicated that the budget cuts due to sequestration had prevented the SEC from effectively expanding their oversight powers into developing areas of the financial sector. The Republican budget, passed by the House of Representatives in March, would result in further cuts to many important federal agencies, including the SEC.
In the Bronx
Serrano Announces Funding for Moynihan Courthouse
On Monday, Congressman Serrano joined Congressmen Jerrold Nadler and Peter King, and Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska to announce that the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Federal Courthouse has received $10.4 million in federal funds to build a new state-of-the-art security pavilion. The security pavilion was planned shortly after 9/11 but until the intercession of the New York Congressional delegation, the project had languished. The new pavilion will improve security screening at the courthouse and also help to alleviate congestion.
"I was happy to be able to intercede on the Moynihan Courthouse's behalf from my seat on the Appropriations Committee," said Serrano, Ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the General Services Agency, which funded the project. "We know that keeping our federal buildings secure is of the utmost importance, especially one with high sensitivity trials involving national security like Moynihan. Waiting for so many years after 9/11 was unacceptable, and my colleagues and I were finally able to convince GSA to make these vital improvements. In addition, I want to recognize the hard work of the Southern District's Chief Judge, Loretta Preska, and District Executive Ed Friedland. They educated many of us about the problem, and galvanized a search for a solution. Our federal building security must be more efficient than ever, and this pavilion will be just such a solution."
Serrano Runs in the Bronx
The past two weekends Congressman Serrano participated in 5k running races in the Bronx. First he participated in the Bronx Zoo's Run for the Wild, which helps to raise money to protect elephants and other endangered species, and the following weekend he participated in the Bronx Community College's Run the Bronx race, which helps raise money for scholarships at BCC. "It was great to see many people out in the Bronx running, enjoying the spring weather and raising money for worthy causes," said Serrano. "I always look forward to the end of April when we get these two great races in the Bronx."
Promoting Health Literacy
Deadline: See full announcement for details
The National Institutes of Health have announced the availability of funding for promoting health literacy. Nonprofits, state and local governments, and individuals are encouraged to submit applications for programs that will educate individuals on how to understand health information, learn about the availability of services, and understand how to make beneficial health decisions.