At the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund Site in Laurence Harbor, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and local activists gathered on July 10, 2017, to commemorate the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on July 9, 1970.
The agency was created through bipartisan efforts during the Nixon administration to protect the nation’s air and water quality and prevent various forms of pollution.
The EPA has played a leading role in protecting public health and combatting climate change, taking action on chemical safety and working towards a sustainable future.
Dave Pringle, NJ Campaign Director of Clean Water Action, Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey, and local officials were also at the event.
“For decades the EPA enjoyed bipartisan supports for its mission to ensure a safe, healthy and clean planet for our children and grandchildren,” said Pallone. “I have been proud to help strengthen the EPA, strengthen programs for environmental cleanup and support initiatives such as the Clean Power Plan that helps curb greenhouse-gas emissions. Unfortunately, the EPA and all that it stands for is now under attack by the Trump Administration, which values the views of the fossil fuel industry over scientific facts and the well-being of working families. Today we must recommit to the EPA and fight for all that it represents.”
“We are not just here to celebrate EPA’s commitment to the environment, but to defend the EPA from attacks and budget cuts. President Trump has declared war on the environment by trying to cut the budget and muzzle EPA and its scientists. By cutting the budget by 31 percent, Trump wants to get rid of thousands of EPA staff. His cuts will mean that there will not be 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 the Superfund program by 30 percent, the people living near a toxic site like the Raritan Bay will continue to suffer. It will mean there is no money to test our drinking water and make sure our health isn’t being threatened,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of New Jersey Sierra Club. “We must continue to stand up to the Fossil Fool in the White House and make sure our environment is protected for the next 47 years.”
“EPA’s anniversary should be a reminder that President Trump’s draconian budget cuts are still hanging over the agency,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “There’s nothing to celebrate about a budget that will take EPA back 47 years and reverse our environmental progress and stop Superfund clean-ups in their tracks. We need leaders like Congressman Pallone to carry this fight forward in Congress and we need all of New Jersey’s Congressman to stand up to these budget cuts.”
Congressman Pallone and the Sierra Club have been strong supporters of the EPA and initiatives such as its Superfund and Brownfields Programs, which were established to address the country’s most hazardous waste sites and protect public health and the environment. New Jersey has the most Superfund toxic sites in the nation. The Brownfields program was created in 2002 by legislation authored in the House by Pallone and the late Republican Ohio Rep. Paul Gillmor. Congressman Pallone recently secured reauthorization of the program through the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The Sierra Club and Pallone have also spoken out against President Trump’s budget, which would cut the EPA’s budget by 31 percent, including significant reductions to research programs and enforcement of clean air and clean water programs. The President’s budget request would eliminate 3,800 EPA employees, which comprise 20% of the agency’s workforce. There are 46 EPA programs that would be completely eliminated.
On May 7, it was reported that the EPA had dismissed at least five members of a major scientific review board; the dismissed members were academic scientists. A spokesman for Administrator Scott Pruitt said he would consider replacing the academic scientists with representatives from industries whose pollution the agency is supposed to regulate.
President Trump has also withdrawn the United States from the historic Paris Climate agreement, an accord among nearly 200 nations to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions. The administration’s proposal to drill in the Atlantic Ocean has also drawn enormous criticism from Pallone and the environmental community.
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