“It's so important to me that we maintain our environment so that future generations can experience pristine nature the way we all have had the opportunity to.” — Tom Kean Jr.
Sen. Kean posted this statement on social media along with a photo of his younger self smiling in an outdoor setting.
Only few days later, the Trump Administration announced its intention to scale back an almost century old law protecting most wild bird species in the U.S., action, that according to the NY Times, could result in killing “billions” of wild birds.
Sen. Kean said nothing.
Less than a week later, the Trump Administration said it was going to ease restrictions on hunting bear cubs and wolf pups on nature preserves in Alaska.
Sen. Kean said nothing.
In fact, over the past three-and-a-half years, the Trump Administration and its Environmental Protection Agency have rescinded or are in the process of rolling back 100 major environmental standards and regulations necessary to protect the environment and the health of our children and grandchildren. These measures include the Mercury and Air Toxics (MATs) rule regulating power plant emissions of mercury, a neuro-toxin especially dangerous for infants and young children. Sen. Kean didn't bat an eye.
When the Trump Administration announced plans to give individual states more authority to set their own emissions standards and allow power companies to refurbish and operate aging coal-fired plants without installing modern emissions controls — a policy with the potential to upend hard-won environmental gains and reverse emissions reductions achieved over three previous presidential administrations — Sen. Kean said nothing.
Sen. Kean said nothing when Trump authorized his EPA to rescind the carbon-focused Clean Power Rule promulgated by President Obama that would limit carbon emissions from the nation's power plants with the side benefit of cutting emissions of fine particulates and other pollutants. Trump's own EPA estimated that killing the Clean Power Rule would result in the premature death of more than 1,400 Americans annually. It will make thousands of people suffering from respiratory illnesses sicker, with senior citizens and children the most vulnerable. Did Sen. Kean use his standing as a New Jersey legislative leader and one its most prominent Republican elected officials to protest or even question these environmental assaults? Nope.
When Trump's EPA issued new rules weakening vehicle fuel emissions standards, action that will increase carbon emissions by almost a billion tons and result in consumption of 80 billion more gallons of gasoline, Sen. Kean had no comment.
The story is the same on the subject of water pollution. The Trump Administration is allowing the dumping of coal waste into waterways. It's rescinding the ban on emissions of cancer-causing chemicals into rivers and streams. Sen. Kean must think this is OK because he said nothing and did nothing in response.
Trump's anti-environment scorecard includes the reversal of 27 measures on air pollution; 11 on water pollution; 11 on animal and wildlife protection; 20 on drilling and mineral extraction; 12 on infrastructure and planning, and 8 on toxic substances. Sen. Kean has remained silent and compliant on all of them.
And has Sen. Kean made any attempt to raise his party's awareness or reverse its delusional attitude toward the existential threat of climate change? Has he exhibited any inclination toward leadership on perhaps the most fundamental environmental issue of our lifetime? Again, the answer is no. Again, the response is silence. Sen. Kean's commitment to preserving the pristine environment of his youth appears to have been trumped by his political ambition and an unwillingness to tell the White House what it doesn't want to hear.
However, now that Sen. Kean has secured his party's nomination for the House of Representatives, he'll have some new opportunities to demonstrate whether he really wants to represent the interests of residents in NJ CD07 or just carry contaminated water for the Trump Administration. He can start by explaining why he's been so silent about the environmental insults leveled against this district, this state, and this region and what, if anything, he plans to do about them.
Neil R. Brown
Editor’s Note: The writer is a retired government affairs specialist who worked at PSEG. He has direct experience in energy policy.