Activists Push Back Against Trump’s Proposed EPA cuts

Reposted from Forrest Miller, Legislative Gazette, June 28, 2017.

A statewide coalition comprised of more than 110 environmental groups launched a last-ditch effort to convince lawmakers to reject President Trump’s proposed EPA budget.

The “Save The EPA Campaign” cites President Trump’s proposed 31 percent EPA cut as its main concern, saying that such a cut would have a very real impact on the lives of many New York residents and adding that the proposed cut may leave state agencies without the resources to enforce “life saving” laws like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

“President Trump and industry allies have shamelessly sought to turn the EPA into a boogeyman,” said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, “but New Yorkers know it is because of the EPA that the Gowanus Canal is getting cleaned up, the Hudson River is healing, and less pollution from western states gets breathed in by our children. Protections, which came from tragedies caused by unchecked pollution are being sabotaged.”

The EPA directly monitors and tests lakes and rivers around New York state including Lake Champlain and the Hudson River as well as monitoring the Adirondack Park for acid rain damage.

The proposed cuts would also require a 20 percent reduction in personnel which could affect up to 80 full time employees at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Departments of Air and Water, which depend on grants from the EPA to help pay for staff.

“We are fortunate to have the DEC standing in the gap but they cannot stand alone against the toxic tide that is the Trump budget,” said Bill Cooke, director of government relations for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “The proposed EPA cuts are not based on any analysis but rather an ideological view that our environment, our natural resources, and public health are not a concern of the federal government. The New York Nine need to act and support a fully funded EPA.”

The “New York Nine” are nine Republican congressional representatives who environmental activists fear will vote to support Trump’s budget unless persuaded otherwise.

The Save The EPA press conference was attended by representatives from Environmental Advocates of New York, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, and Food & Water Watch.

Also in attendance were concerned citizens including Michelle Baker, a mother from Hoosick Falls, who spoke about how the EPA has benefited her community in recent years.

“The EPA is the only reason we’re not still drinking cancer water today,” Baker said. “President Trump and the people he has running the EPA should be looking for ways to strengthen our laws, to keep what happened here from happening anywhere else. It is beyond immoral that they’re pushing cuts instead. If Congress does not stop the President, people will get sick and die.”

In 2015, federal environmental agencies discovered Perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, contaminating the Hoosick river. The PFOA likely came from a local plastics factory located on the river. The PFOA was found in the Hoosick Falls water supply and the EPA quickly took steps to warn Hoosick Falls residents and treat the water.

Speakers at the press conference urged citizens to get in touch with state lawmakers and tell them that they did not approve of the budget.

“The EPA should continue to work to protect our families, our children, our future, not be forced to pander to polluters” said Caitlin Pixley-Ferrante, coordinator of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “The New York Republican Congressional Representatives — The NY Nine — need to save the EPA. Say no to the Trump EPA budget. Protect us, not polluters.”

Peter Iwanowicz said that the campaign plans to hold public events outside of lawmakers offices and they are hoping to schedule meetings with individual lawmakers during the August recess.

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