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North Castle Daily News

Nita Lowey Gun Violence
Lowey Hosts Gun Violence Roundtable with Students and Law Enforcement

Feb. 23, 2018
Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY17/Rockland-Westchester), on the heels of the deadly Parkland school shooting that left at least 17 people dead, joined Lower Hudson Valley students and local law enforcement for a roundtable discussion on gun violence and prevention. Lowey heard directly from participants about the need for commonsense gun safety reform and discussed her efforts to prevent gun violence.

Joining Congresswoman Lowey at the roundtable were Frank Williams, Executive Director of the City of White Plains Youth Bureau; Det. Gilberto Lopez, School Resource Officer for the White Plains Police Department; Det. Morgan Cole-Hatchard from the Pleasantville Police Department; New Castle’s Community Resource Officer Michelle Mazzocchi; and more than a dozen high school students.

Lowey invited these students to participate in the roundtable after several reached out to her expressing their fear of gun violence in their communities, particularly in their schools, as well as their frustration with congressional inaction on gun violence.

“The bottom line is that students have a right to go to school free from fear, not having to worry about anything other than expanding their horizons and minds,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “These mass shootings, including the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, continue to shake all of us to the core, and students are left fearful for their safety. That’s unacceptable, and congressional Republicans must join Democrats in commonsense reforms to reduce gun violence, keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and improve public safety. The students I spoke with today demand action, and it’s past time that the Republican-controlled Congress take meaningful steps to end this nation’s gun crisis.”

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average 96 Americans, including seven children and teens, are killed with guns every day, while nearly 13,000 are the victims of gun homicides every year. According to The American Journal of Medicine, among high-income nations, 91 percent of children 14 and under who were killed by a firearm lived in the United States. The U.S. has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world as well as a significantly higher gun homicide rate than other advanced countries.

“Violence has once again visited our community,” said Frank Williams, Executive Director of the City of White Plains Youth Bureau. “In Parkland, Florida, fourteen youth and three teachers died at the hands of another. As a nation, we are better than this. We must all work together to end this plague. We must listen to our youth and empower them to help us rid this evil. Today in White Plains, we heard the voices of our youth and we will work to end this violence.”

Lowey is a member of the congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and has been a leader in fighting to prevent gun violence, including working to strengthen background checks, close the terror gap loophole, and ban assault weapons and bump stocks. Last Congress, Lowey introduced the NICS Community Protection Act, which would close the Charleston loophole by providing 14 businesses days rather than three for a background check to be completed by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This week, Lowey sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to allow a vote to lift the ban on federal gun violence research. As Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, Lowey has repeatedly offered an amendment in the committee to provide funding for the CDC to conduct gun violence prevention research.

Three Bills Support Secure Future Beyond Indian Point
By Congresswoman Nita Lowey
November 20, 2017
In four years, Indian Point Energy Center will close, removing a key source of revenue for the Village of Buchanan, the Town of Cortlandt, and the Hendrick Hudson School District. Communities will be forced to deal with serious environmental concerns, not the least of which is storage of spent nuclear fuel. State and local stakeholders have no shortage of questions to answer and plans to discuss prior to the plant’s closure in 2021.

Action is already under way. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Indian Point Task Force, comprised of state agency representatives, union and business leaders, and local elected officials, continues to explore development opportunities for Cortlandt.

At the same time, community leaders and local and school officials hold regular meetings about the plant’s pending closure, and have learned from representatives of communities in other states that have dealt with the ramifications of their own plant closures. Such a proactive approach, years out from Indian Point’s closure, is a positive indication of the seriousness with which our community takes the plant’s decommissioning and of our commitment to ensuring a successful transition.

As the state and localities continue to assess the implications of plant closure and explore solutions, I am working to leverage the federal government to aid these efforts and to pursue legislative remedies to help the community. On Nov. 20, I joined Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker, Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi, and Hendrick Hudson School District Superintendent Joseph Hochreiter to announce three pieces of legislation I recently introduced to address the serious concerns surrounding Indian Point’s closure.

  • My first bill, the Removing Nuclear Waste from our Communities Act, would expedite the process to remove spent nuclear fuel rods from the plant site by allowing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to license interim storage facilities elsewhere in the country and to prioritize the removal of nuclear waste from sites in densely populated areas like the Lower Hudson Valley. This would address one of the primary obstacles to redeveloping the Indian Point property — that is, the storage of dry casks on-site in the absence of a central repository
  • My second bill, the Safe and Secure Decommissioning Act, would maintain the NRC’s emergency response and security requirements until all of the spent fuel on the Indian Point site is moved into dry cask storage, which is the safest temporary way to store nuclear waste. This would ensure that spent fuel rods stored at the closed facility remain safe and secure until a permanent repository for nuclear waste is operational. Indian Point is closing down, but that doesn’t mean the site’s safety risks will evaporate. As long as spent nuclear fuel remains on the Indian Point site, vigorous oversight is necessary to ensure that ownership does not duck responsibility for its stewardship.

  • Finally, the Redistribution of Fines to our Communities Act would redistribute safety-related fines, collected by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of its enforcement program, to affected localities to support the local tax base. Communities will need all the funds they can get to help offset lower tax revenue when the plant closes, and this bill would help mitigate the economic impacts of plant closure and aid communities with economic development.

We need innovative solutions to soften the blow of Indian Point’s closure, and all levels of government must work together closely to ensure our work force, school district, and communities are protected as Indian Point closes. These bills would help ensure the federal government assists Buchanan, Cortlandt, and Hendrick Hudson School District to the fullest extent possible.

As the state and local governments continue to spearhead efforts to mitigate the impacts of Indian Point’s closing, I will remain a strong partner at the federal level to help facilitate the responsible closure of Indian Point.