Higgins Announces Win for Hooker Chemical Workers; Invites Former Employees & Their Families to U.S. Department of Labor Session in Niagara Falls

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced that the U.S. Department of Labor will host a resource session for former employees of Hooker Electrochemical Corporation to provide information on the newly designated Special Exposure Cohort and assist eligible parties with the filing of claims for compensation.  On September 22, 2015 the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary designated that certain cases for compensation would be considered under a Special Exposure Cohort rather than the arduous “dose reconstruction” process previously required. 

“In their service to this nation, Hooker Chemical workers have paid a significant price, costing lives and resulting in suffering for employees and their families,” said Congressman Higgins.  “This new designation creates a much less burdensome application process for those seeking the compensation they deserve.”

The Special Exposure Cohort is extended to atomic weapons employees who worked at Hooker Chemical, for a minimum of 250 days, between July 1, 1944 and December 31, 1948 and were diagnosed with one of 22 specified cancers.  

During the Cold War era, workers at Hooker Chemical and other facilities helped build the nuclear arsenal.  Without adequate monitoring or protection, many were exposed to significant levels of radiation.  Under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program qualifying employees whose claims are granted are entitled to $150,000 in compensation. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation division will be available to answer questions, assist with new claims and update existing claims on: 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

9:00AM – 12:00PM


1:30PM – 4:30PM

at the

FourPoints by Sheraton Niagara Falls

7001 Buffalo Ave

Niagara Falls, NY


As of November 22, 2015, 608 claims have been filed by former employees or their families.  To date only 35 claims have been approved.  The previously required “dose reconstruction” process is especially difficult since many of the records necessary either never existed or are no longer available.   This new designation will allow for the approval of many more claims. 

Congressman Higgins has a long record of fighting for Atomic Workers.  Working closely with former Bethlehem Steel employees, Higgins fought for Washington to listen to the former workers and at his request the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health agreed to host a meeting in Western New York.  After reviewing the evidence and hearing from local families the Board agreed to grant a Special Exposure Cohort for Bethlehem Steel, allowing local families to get the compensation they deserve.  To date, former Bethlehem Steel workers have been awarded close to $234 million for compensation and medical expenses. 

Constituents who can’t make the meeting and are in need of more information on eligibility criteria or the claims process can call Congressman Higgins’ office at: 716-852-3501.  


Next Phase of Multi-Million Dollar Transformation Underway at Buffalo Harbor State Park

Renderings of the project available here, here and here

Governor Cuomo announced the start of construction work on the small boat harbor breakwall and southern revetment, which is the next phase of the multi-million dollar transformation of Buffalo Harbor State Park. The $3.76 million breakwall and revetment redesign is phase two of the $15 million in improvements provided through the Governor‘s Buffalo Billion and NY Parks 2020 initiatives to completely reinvigorate the Buffalo Harbor waterfront.

“This is an important milestone in Buffalo’s revitalization, one that will expand outdoor access to the waterfront and bring recreational and investment opportunities to the region, “said Governor Cuomo. “I am proud of the continued progress of this project, one of many examples of a city on the move.”

The rehabilitated breakwall will be stabilized and include paved walking and bike paths, shaded seating areas, the introduction of a fishing platform and lighting. The southern revetment will also be rehabilitated and like the breakwall, will be stabilized and feature increased fishing access. The southern revetment is expected to be complete by summer 2016, and the breakwall by fall 2016. View the newest improvements here.

State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said: “Parks and green spaces have a tremendous, unparalleled power to enhance communities, and I thank Governor Cuomo for championing this new park for the wonderful city of Buffalo and for all the exciting changes yet to come.”

This year more than 107,000 people visited the state’s newest 190-acre park and enjoyed $3 million in improvements already completed. These new features include two open-air picnic pavilions that can host 100 people in each pavilion, a nautically themed destination playground revered by the community, new park furnishings including shaded seating, lighting, improved fish cleaning station, landscaping, walkways and utility upgrades.

Congressman Brian Higgins said: “Last year’s opening of the first State park in the City of Buffalo created a great new waterfront destination for Western New York families. We were pleased to work closely with Governor Cuomo who understood the value and long-term vision of transferring this property into the capable hands of New York State Parks. This significant investment by the State provides a huge boost to the momentum building on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor and will give the public fantastic new opportunities to experience Buffalo’s waterfront.”

Senator Tim Kennedy said: “Buffalo's waterfront continues to get better and better. The word is getting out about Buffalo's greatest natural resource, and New York State is doing its part to responsibly guide the Outer Harbor's revitalization. From bike paths, to increased fishing, to improved lighting, this next phase in the transformation of Buffalo Harbor State Park is going to make a huge difference. I thank Governor Cuomo for his continued dedication to Western New York, and I thank New York State Parks for their excellent stewardship of this regional gem."

Senator Marc Panepinto said: "Buffalo's greatest natural asset continues to experience a transformation like never before. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Governor Cuomo, families will be able to enjoy recreational activities along our waterfront year-round. I encourage all residents to get out and experience the results of those efforts and all those still yet to come."

Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes said: “I would like to congratulate Gov. Cuomo and WNY State Parks Dept. on enhancing the recreational capabilities and park access for Western New Yorkers. We love our waterfront and we love our green space, these improvements will help promote exercise and healthy living while increasing park utilization.”

Assemblyman Sean Ryan said: "Public access to the water is my top priority for waterfront development. This project helps to achieve that goal, and will greatly expand the public's ability to enjoy Buffalo's magnificent waterfront. I thank Governor Cuomo for moving forward with this important investment. A revitalized Outer Harbor, focused on public access, will be a catalyst for growth in the new Buffalo. With the Queen City Bike Ferry now connecting Canalside to the Outer Harbor, investing in public amenities at the Buffalo Harbor State Park is a smart strategy, and I look forward to seeing the completed project next year."

Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is making a historic commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 plan is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The Governor's 2015-16 Executive Budget allocates $110 million toward this initiative.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 62 million people annually. A recent study found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter. 



Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) recognized the struggles of families facing Alzheimer’s disease and the supportive role of the Alzheimer’s Association of Western New York on the Floor of the House of Representatives this week. November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month as well as National Family Caregivers’ Month, dedicated to those caring for a family member with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or in old age.

Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the only leading cause of death in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s. Today, nearly 5.4 million people have been diagnosed with the disease.

(To view click above or go to:

Text of Congressman Higgins’ remarks below:

Mr. Speaker: I rise to recognize the work of the Alzheimer’s Association of Western New York.

Five point three million Americans and their families are living with Alzheimer’s. That number is expected to triple by 2050. Two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women, and 200,000 are under the age of 65.

In Western New York 55,000 people have Alzheimer's or a related dementia. Last year the Alzheimer's Association of Western New York provided 10,000 service contacts for those patients, and is an invaluable resource to Western New York families.

Alzheimer’s is a disease whose cause is unknown but whose end is absolutely certain. This House must work together to increase funding for the Alzheimer’s research and we must support the caregivers and volunteers who make a difference for millions of Americans and their families.

Congressman Higgins is a member of the Alzheimer’s Task Force and co-founded the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Caucus to increase funding for medical research. In a touching example of how Alzheimer’s disease and the stress of being a caregiver affects family members, Congressman Higgins recently worked with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and community members to move 90 year old World War II veteran Johnnie Hodges back into his home on Humboldt Parkway in Buffalo. Mr. Hodges was forced to leave his home of 60 years after falling behind on bills due to caring for his ailing wife, who had dementia.

For more information about Alzheimer’s and dementia, please visit the Alzheimer’s Association of Western New York’s website at, or call their office at 716.626.0600.



Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) spoke on the House Floor today about the importance of extending the Solar Investment Tax Credit. If Congress does not act to extend it, the credit will expire in 2016.

Since its passage in 2005 as part of the Energy Policy Act, the Solar Investment Tax Credit has been extended twice, for one year through the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 and for eight years through the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act in 2008.

The Solar Investment Tax Credit encourages private investment in solar manufacturing and solar project construction. The largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the Western Hemisphere, the SolarCity GigaFactory, is currently under construction on the former RiverBend brownfield site in Buffalo.

To view click above or go to:

Text of Congressman Higgins’ remarks below:

Mr. Speaker: Since Congress passed the Solar Investment Tax Credit in 2005, solar installations have grown by 1,600%. Americans have invested $72 billion in solar. And 8,000 businesses in all 50 states have created 160,000 jobs in the solar industry.

Much of this economic success story is due to the Investment Tax Credit, which is scheduled to expire at the end of next year.  If the Investment Tax Credit expires the solar industry could see a 71% decline, needlessly costing the American economy 100,000 jobs.

This uncertainty is already affecting the market. Consumers need confidence in the tax policy before they decide whether to make an investment into the solar industry.

I ask my colleagues to join me in urging the Ways and Means Committee to expeditiously prioritize a long term extension of this critical, job-creating tax incentive.

Congressman Higgins is a strong advocate for initiatives supporting the expansion and use of solar power. In October, he joined Rep. Richard Hanna (NY-22) to introduce legislation aimed at demonstrating the benefits of net metering. In April he spoke again on the House Floor in favor of the Solar Ready Vets Program to provide veterans with job training and opportunities in the solar industry.