NJ Sierra Club Stands With Pascrell and Gottheimer Against Trump’s Attack on Environment

 

Congressman Bill Pascrell, Congressman Josh Gottheimer, New Jersey Sierra Club and local environmental groups came out today against President Trump’s budget that slashes funding for the Superfund Sites. The event focused on the Trump Administration’s budget cuts and weakening of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including programs to clean-up toxic sites. The event took place along the banks of the Passaic River, which is one of the nation’s most seriously contaminated bodies of water. The Garfield Groundwater Contamination Superfund Site was also nearby, which is a Superfund Site with 3,640 gallons of chromic acid spilled from an underground tank at the now defunct E.C. Electroplating Plant. Under Trump’s budget, he wants to cut funding for Superfund Sites by 30 percent, slash funding by 43 percent for hundreds of other toxic sites polluting our communities as well as eliminate 30 percent of funding to address lead. The event took place at 11:30 AM at the Dundee Dam Riverwalk in Garfield on 909 River Drive.

 

“We are here together to stand up against Donald Trump’s war on the environment. President Trump cutting EPA budget and funding for toxic cleanups is dangerous and threatens public health. By not funding the Superfund program, it will mean more toxins in our soil, water, homes, and in our people. This will lead to clean up delays, while other toxic sites won’t be cleaned-up at all. It will cause more toxins going into groundwater and neighborhoods threatening human health. Thousands of people have been suffering by chromium in Garfield and from dioxin in the Passaic River, but Trump rather side with corporate polluters” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Instead of making polluters pay and holding them accountable, he is putting polluters in front of the people. The failure to have adequate funds means it takes longer to clean up sites leading to more toxics going into groundwater and neighborhoods. By not cleaning up toxic sites, it hurts our environment and puts people at risk.”

 

With New Jersey having the most Superfund sites in the nation, we need to fund the Superfund program to adequately clean-up toxic sites and make sure polluters pay their fair share. New Jersey has 118 Superfund sites and have over one thousand sites waiting to be listed. Polluters have used our state as a dumping ground for years and most people live 10 miles from a Superfund site. These sites contaminate our drinking water and release hazardous chemicals into the environment. Additionally, monitoring is not a cleanup and should not be used as an excuse to clean up the site. Without funding, there will be more pollution in the ground impacting communities around the sites.

 

“What Trump is doing is taking the Fund out of Superfund. He wants to use that money to put a wall around Mexico, but if he doesn’t fund the program we will have to put a wall around the Passaic River and Garfield so the people won’t be impacted by the contamination. 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,” said Jeff Tittel. “Without funding Superfund, the people living along the Passaic River will continue to suffer. Hundreds of people will keep living above contaminated groundwater at the Garfield Superfund site. For people throughout the state living near a toxic site, it will mean there is no money to test our drinking water and make sure our health isn’t being threatened. Sites that are waiting to be cleaned up will not get the funding. Even the weak clean-up plans won’t even be implemented because Trump will freeze all work being done in the Superfund program. These cuts even hurt the economy because these sites could be turned into parks, warehouses, shopping, or solar fields that add to job creation.”

 

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. New Jersey could also loose over a $100 million in funding to deal with stormwater, mitigate climate change, and remove lead from pipes and upgrade our water system. In addition, Trump plans to cut funding for lead clean-up throughout the country by 30 percent. 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.

 

“While so many people, especially children have been poisoned by lead, Trump plans to cut funding by 30 percent. This is not only outrageous, but dangerous because some schools in New Jersey even have higher levels of lead than Flint, Michigan. Trump is rolling back protections for clean water and climate change because the only science he believes is in science fiction. By cutting the EPA budget, he will cut enforcement by 23 percent so chemical plants could blow up. Climate change is real, is happening every day, and people are being impacted, but he is allowing 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.”

 

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 glad to stand with Congressman Pascrell and Congressman Gottheimer against Trump’s assault on the environment and thank them for their work. Now more than ever we must build a mass movement of people who support the environment. 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.”

 

Contact: Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

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