Trump Takes Hatchet to Environmental Programs in First Federal Budget 

Lawmakers, Activists Unite to Oppose Disastrous Proposed Cuts that Would Set NJ Back Decades 

Environmental groups from all corners of the state are teaming up with legislators of both political parties to press Republicans in Congress to reject President Trump’s proposed budget, which they agree would devastate New Jersey’s environment.  

Trump’s first federal budget contains such severe cuts to environmental protection and conservation programs that every New Jersey resident and business would feel them. Folks who don’t always agree have no trouble seeing eye to eye when it comes to protecting precious natural resources like the Jersey Shore. Thus, the “Save the EPA” campaign was born.  

The campaign kicked off mid-month at the Mantoloking Bridge, where Rep. Frank Pallone joined the Republican mayors of Point Pleasant Beach and Bay Head and the Democratic Mayor of Brick Township at a news conference denouncing the proposed budget as a cause of deep and lasting harm to our ocean, bays, and coast. Cuts to programs big and small are proposed. For example, a $263,000 grant New Jersey receives test coastal waters for swimming safety would be eliminated. Bay Head, which has been waiting five years to get a canal dredged after Superstorm Sandy washed in tons of sand, would continue to wait.  

“If more funding cuts will go to New Jersey, we’ll never get that dredged and eventually people will walk on it and it will not help Barnegat Bay at all,” Mayor Bill Curtis said.  

Dozens of programs would be eliminated or crippled under Trump’s proposed 31 percent cut to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). New Jersey potentially would be among the hardest hit states since many key programs are delegated from EPA to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for implementation and enforcement. Additionally, the DEP 

receives 22 percent of its budget from the feds, and would potentially be in crisis on top of deep staffing and program cuts Gov. Christie has imposed over the past eight years. 

No area of the state is immune from Trump’s hacksaw. The $2.7 million New Jersey received through the Clean Water Act to control pollutants in our drinking water would be eliminated. A 30 percent cut to a program that redevelops brownfields, providing jobs and improved quality of life in these neighborhoods, would affect Atlantic City, Plainfield, Jersey City, and Asbury Park, each of which received at least $400,000 last year. New Jersey’s three national estuaries –NY/NJ Harbor, Barnegat Bay and the Delaware – each received $600,000 or more last year from yet another program on Trump’s chopping block.  

With the House set to take up the budget next month, the fight is gaining momentum. On Tuesday, it moves to the steps of the Statehouse where advocates will be joined by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman and state Assemblywoman Liz Muoio at noon to highlight the risk the Trump budget poses to the Delaware River Watershed, a drinking water source for 3 million New Jerseyans. A recently approved restoration and water quality improvement program faces an uncertain future if the cuts go through.   

As Drew Tompkins, policy coordinator for the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, put it: “The Delaware River is a vital economic driver for our state. Failing to adequately fund clean water programs threatens drinking water for millions of people as well as the economic livelihoods of industries ranging from eco-tourism to brewing. Congress cannot allow that to happen.” 

The campaign then moves on to the districts of New Jersey’s five Republican legislators with the following action/information events planned for this week, all starting at 6:30 pm: Tuesday, Aug. 29, Parsippany-Troy Hills Library, district of Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee; Egg Harbor Township Library, district of Rep. Frank LoBiondo; Wednesday, Aug. 30, Somerville Library, Rep. Leonard Lance’s district; Thursday, Aug. 31, Willingboro Library, Rep. Tom MacArthur’s district; and East Branch Library, Shrewsbury, Rep. Chris Smith’s district. 

“If the EPA loses funding, New Jersey loses too. Clean water is fundamental to the economic success and health of New Jerseyans, and the proposed cuts to the EPA would undermine the agency’s ability to protect our state’s water quality,” said Alison Mitchell, policy director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation. 

Delli Santi is a former political reporter at The Associated Press who currently works as communications director at New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, a non-partisan statewide organization dedicated to protecting our natural resources

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