The Environmental Protection Agency is under great threat. While chaos and confusion swirl around the Trump White House, and the public is distracted by the Russia Investigation, the egregious behavior of the president regarding Charlottesville, tweet upon crazy tweet and rallies, there is undermining of regulations in various departments. These regulations, passed by both Republican and Democratic administrations serve to keep the American public safe. This is particularly true of the EPA. Since the 1970’s the department with career professionals and scientists have implemented laws and contributed scholarship and professional expertise on clean water, air and climate change and other areas under their jurisdiction.
So what is going on now and why do we care? In July, the House Appropriations Committee recommended cuts of $528 million, actually less than what the Trump Administration requested. As reported in the Star Ledger, bipartisan elected officials and environmental groups have raised concern that cuts to 50 federal programs by as much as 30 percent will cause New Jersey to lose all of the environmental gains made in 4 decades from clean beaches, cleanup of Superfund sites and negative impacts on our drinking water. The Department of Environmental Protection in NJ has already been decimated under Governor Christie and NJ could stand to lose an additional 80 million dollars with the new cuts.
I would venture to guess that most Livingston residents care greatly about the environment and would oppose these cuts. Our congressman, Rodney Frelinghuysen has the power in Congress to change this devastating trajectory. He is the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and as such carries great authority on all government spending. In addition, his voting record on the environment reflects the priorities of the Trump administration. For example-just this past winter he voted against the Clean Streams Act which allows mining companies to dump harmful waste and chemicals into streams, imperiling the environment and people’s health. In the spring he voted in favor of the Science Advisory Board Reform Act which will force the EPA to give industry lobbyists greater influence while blocking reputable scientists if they apply for an EPA contract. There are other examples but in summary his votes reflect 100% support of the Trump administration’s position on environmental regulations.
Call or write his office in Morristown to express your concerns. Ask his staff his position on fully funding the EPA. Tell him you know that our NJ Department of Environmental Protection receives 40% of its budget from the federal EPA and that we need him and all of NJ representatives to represent the needs of our state, not the agenda of Donald Trump. The phone number in Morristown is (973) 984-0711. When you contact him ask him about having a town hall, a real in person town hall, not one by telephone. Don’t forget that the midterm elections in 2018 will give us the opportunity to elect a congressman who truly represents the interests of Livingston and all towns in the 11th congressional district.