NJ Environment: In the hands of Trump, Congress & Christie

As The White House released in May its budget request for the 2018 fiscal year the Trump administration made good on its promise to target deep cuts to federal spending on climate and other programs.  White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters that the government has been spending too much money on climate change and Trump’s proposed budget intentionally rebukes the Obama administration’s support for federally funded climate research.

Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a former New Jersey congressman, told reporters, “If the White House budget plan were to become law, it would devastate America’s science and technology enterprise.” Another scientist said the budget “undermines scientific progress needed to protect the U.S. from natural disasters.”

On July 12 a House Appropriations subcommittee passed a bill to fund the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, and related agencies in Fiscal Year 2018. The EPA’s budget was cut by 6.5% or $528 million, which is far less than the 31% ($2.6 billion) cut requested by the Trump Administration. The bill will next be considered by the full committee.

Now is our opportunity to protest/encourage our Representatives to introduce amendments to further increase spending for specific programs and to oppose detrimental Trump policies. Unfortunately, NJ has no Representative on the Natural Resources House Committee which deals with the EPA, however a variety of other committees also have some jurisdiction. The House Appropriations Committee, chaired by NJ Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen, plays an important role in spending matters. Frelinghuysen, has said that he cannot agree to many of the cuts that Trump has proposed. In the U.S. Senate Cory Booker is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Sen. Robert Menendez also speaks out on these matters.

The future landscape of  New Jersey’s environment remains grim. Although our EPA could lose tens of millions of dollars under Trump’s proposed federal budget, Commissioner Bob Martin told lawmakers he has not developed any plans to deal with the potential cuts. Protests should be directed to him, Governor Christie and our state legislature currently in recess. Our likely next governor Phil Murphy should be working on this problem and speaking out against proposed cuts and policies.

Here are just a few examples of what may lie ahead:

As we spend this summer at beaches, visit our parks and spend more time outdoors, we can marvel at what we now enjoy but may soon lose if we don’t engage. NJ Citizen Action points out as a small and highly developed coastal state, no one will be exempt. Pick your own environmental concerns, visit the numerous NJ environmental websites that highlight key issues, and get involved.

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