Pignatelli Honored As 'River Hero'

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State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli and state Sen. Anne Gobi pose with Massachusetts River Alliance Executive Director Julia Blatt.

BOSTON — State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli and state Sen. Anne Gobi, chairs of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture, were honored as River Heroes on Wednesday evening at the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance annual dinner.

Pignatelli and Gobi, of Spencer, were responsible for the passage of a $2.4 billion Environmental Bond Bill, signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in July that allocated $55 million in funds for river and wetland restoration programs across the commonwealth. In Pignatelli's own Fourth Berkshire District, he allocated $400,000 in funds for the upkeep and expansion of the W.E.B. DuBois river garden park and the Housatonic river walk.

As chairs of the Environment Committee, Pignatelli and Gobi also championed the passage of issues such as the sewage discharge notification bill.

"The Massachusetts Rivers Alliance is delighted to recognize Chairman Pignatelli with our River Hero award," said Julia Blatt, executive director of the Mass Rivers Alliance. "As a new co-chair of the Environment Committee, he hit the ground running, reaching out to members of the environmental community to learn about our issues, and listening carefully to our concerns.  Most important, he supported an increase in the bond for river restoration, worked carefully with stakeholders to redraft the sewage discharge notification bill, and helped stop a bill that would have transferred pollution control from the federal government to the state without sufficient funding.

"We appreciate Chairman Pignatelli's strong commitment to rivers and to his constituents, and we look forward to working with him and his staff again in the coming session."

Pignatelli was appointed Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture in July 2017.

Founded in 2007, The Massachusetts Rivers Alliance works to strengthen statewide river policies in four areas: water quality, stream flow, wildlife habitat, and investment in green infrastructure. Their annual dinner aims to highlight the year’s achievements.

"I am honored to receive this award and to have the ability to work with environmental champions such as the Mass Rivers Alliance," Pignatelli said. "I have also been blessed to have Anne as my Senate counterpart on this committee and have learned so much from her experience and friendship. I believe that we’ve accomplished a great deal in the past year, and I am ready to gear up and continue the fight next session."

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