Senator Cory Booker, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ-06), the New Jersey Sierra Club, and others stood together today against President Trump’s attack on the Environmental Protection Agency and anti-environment agenda. The press conference was held to oppose Trump’s attempts to dismantle the EPA’s vital programs to ensure we have clean air, safe drinking water, and combat climate change by slashing funding in the EPA budget. We also joined together to defend a series of environment and climate change programs that he signed an executive order to dismantle this week. The event was held outside the EPA's Region 2 Laboratory and Environment Center in Edison, New Jersey, since the lab and its staff could be impacted by the Trump Administration’s cuts. State Senator Patrick J. Diegnan and other environmental groups were also present at the event.
“We are here today to stand up against President Trump’s ongoing assault on the environment and public health. Instead of repealing the law that created the EPA, Trump is working to dismantle the agency by going after the budget. Trump is going after environmental programs by cutting the budget by 31 percent and getting rid of thousands of staff. His cuts will mean that there will not enough personnel to make sure our water is safe to drink, our land is clean, our air is breathable, and New Jersey’s 118 Superfund Sites are cleaned-up. By cutting enforcement, Trump will create a polluters holiday because there will be no one to sure to make sure they aren’t violating the law. This is an outrageous attempt to protect corporate polluters instead of our health and climate,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “In another attack on our climate, Trump even signed executive orders to reverse all the progress we have made to reduce climate impacts. That is why we are joining together with Senator Booker and Congressman Pallone to save the EPA and fight back against Trump's anti-environmental agenda.”
Trump plans to cut the EPA budget will cause states to loose 45 percent in funding. New Jersey will be more affected by Trump’s rollbacks than other states because we have assumption of federal programs to protect our air and water. As a result, our state will loose around $85 million from DEP operations, but it could be more. We could see the DEP have to cut staff who are responsible for implementing the Clean Water Act, leaving a huge hole in our budget. With Trump’s cuts, there may be layoffs, closing of parks, and termination of other vital programs. The proposed cuts could also loose funding to clean up toxic sites, water quality testing as well as $100 million in funding on climate change. We will lose funding for the 319 program for stormwater, resiliency along the shore, restoring the Delaware Bayshore, as well as planting dunes. The EPA’s revolving fund for water and sewer projects could be cut as well. This fund deals with water quality infrastructure projects to improve our clean drinking water.
“The only science Trump believes is in science fiction. With Trump denying climate change and siding with Big Oil and corporate polluters over public health, his policies are fiction. Climate change is real, is happening every day, and people are being impacted. By cutting the EPA budget, he will cut enforcement by 23 percent so chemical plants could blow up. At the same time, he is cutting lead funding by 30 percent, which will mean children can be poisoned. Then he is rolling back clean water protections will mean more flooding and pollution. That is not fantasy it is real,” said Jeff Tittel. “For people in the real world, that send their kids to school, they want to make sure their kids are drinking clean water, the Superfund Site nearby is being cleaned-up, and they are not suffering from asthma attacks as a result of power plants in Pennsylvania. You can’t have alternative facts and you definitely cannot have alternative science. That is why Trump’s budget and rollbacks to environmental protections are a disaster.”
This week President Trump signed a broad executive order today intended to kill federal action on climate change and push fossil fuels over renewable energy. A major part of the Executive Order is to eliminate the Clean Power Plan as well as lifting the moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands, increasing the limits on methane leaks, and rescinding National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) guidance that directs agencies to account for the climate crisis. Another piece of the order will direct the Bureau of Land Management to rescind the 2015 rule updating controls on hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands, as well as eliminate review of emissions standards for new oil and gas operations. These actions will threaten green jobs, our economy, while putting more people at risk to climate change.
“Instead of listening to the people who want action on climate change, President Trump is ending half a dozen programs to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. His executive order has went after President Obama’s historic Clean Power Plan, while gutting rules to reduce methane emissions, and stopping environmental reviews,” said Jeff Tittel. “What President Trump is doing is reckless especially to a state like New Jersey that has been so devastated by air pollution and climate change. The problem is what Trump is doing is denying people who live along the coast a future because his actions will increase flooding and sea level rise, while causing climate havoc for the entire country. Instead of protecting people and property, Trump is a climate-denier because he is in lock step with the fossil fools in Washington.”
In New Jersey, the EPA is responsible for responding to chemical spills, monitoring and combatting ocean pollution, and ensuring that our drinking water is safe and our air is clean. In Region 2 alone (which includes New Jersey), there are 10 offices that work on issues from clean air to emergency and remedial issues, clean water, public affairs as well as enforcement and compliance. Trump’s cuts could cost the Edison lab 450 jobs.
“We are here to tell the EPA employees that we have your back and that we will keep fighting to protect America’s environment. We are standing up to defend the EPA lab in Edison to make sure they are able to continue their important work and research. We will work to defend this facility so it can keep conducting research and testing on drinking water, Superfund sites, and other environmental hazards like the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Jeff Tittel.
The head of the EPA Pruitt is an anti-environmental zealot whose job is to dismantle the EPA agency he is supposed to head. As Oklahoma's Attorney General, he sued EPA 14 times against their rules and got the information from his lawsuits from the oil and gas industry. Now he won’t recuse himself from dealing with any of the rules that he’s suing against, which is a major conflict of interest. The last time there was someone as opposed to the EPA as Pruitt leading it was Anne Gorsuch Burford. She weakened superfund sites and tried to push hazardous waste incinerator ships off of our coast. Anne was the first Cabinet member who faced a charge for contempt of Congress when the Democrats were in control and was forced to resign. Now with this Congress, there will be no oversight on an EPA administrator who is trying to gut the EPA. Trump even nominated her son Neil Gorsuch to be a Supreme Court Judge, who may even share the same anti-regulatory values.
“We are glad to have environmental champions like Senator Booker and Congressman Pallone working against Trump’s anti-environmental agenda and thank them for their work. Now more than ever we must build a mass movement of people who support the environment and action on climate change. Just like all the people who came out against Trump’s attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the only way to win is to stand up and push back. We must work together and lead the fight for clean air, clean water and action on climate change. It will be up to us to protect our planet from Trump’s rollbacks,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "We fought 45 years ago for Congress to create the EPA and now we will fight all over again to stop the President from dismantling it."