As members of Congress were home before the Labor Day break, a network of environmental and advocacy groups led by Food & Water Watch held five town hall meetings across the state to put legislators on notice: They must protect our health and safety and reject any cuts to the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Earlier this year, the Trump White House unveiled a plan that called for an unconscionable 31 percent cut to the EPA budget. Even a Republican-controlled Congress was unlikely to endorse dramatic cuts to the agency that protects our air and water, holds corporate polluters accountable and cleans up toxic Superfund sites.
Indeed, in July the House Appropriations Committee advanced its own budget proposal, which slashed the EPA budget by over $500 million. This would represent a seven percent funding cut. But that ‘smaller cut’ would still be devastating; according to the Environmental Protection Network, it represents the smallest budget in 30 years - slightly greater than 1981, one of the darkest periods in EPA history.
Any and all cuts to agencies protecting our health and environment must be stopped. And the final decision could come down to pushing Republicans in Congress to stand up to defend clean air and water. Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen is the chair of the Appropriations Committee, and that is why we gathered in his district to kick off our town hall series on August 29 in Parsippany. Alongside groups like the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, NJ 11th For Change and the Coalition Against the Pilgrim Pipeline, we discussed what these cuts would mean to our state, and how Rep. Frelinghuysen needs to take action.
That same day, we joined with groups in South Jersey to hold a town hall in Egg Harbor. And we held additional events in Somerville, Shrewsbury, and Willingboro to close out the week leading up to the Labor Day break.
Congress will be back in session in September, and the federal budget will be one of the first priorities. Thanks to the on-the-ground organizing with our partners in the Save the EPA campaign, lawmakers know that their constituents are paying close attention.