EPA Headquarters // Photo: AP / Creative Commons
ALBANY — More than 110 organizations across New York state have launched a campaign to save the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from budget cuts proposed by the current federal administration, warning that they would not only hurt the environment, but also endanger the health and wellbeing of millions of Americans.
“The EPA is the only reason we’re not still drinking cancer water today,” said Michele Baker, a mother from Hoosick Falls. “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.”
Representatives from environmental advocacy groups Environmental Advocates of New York (EANY), Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch and Citizens Campaign for the Environment spoke of the importance of funding the endangered EPA programs at a press conference at the Legislative Offices Building in Albany on Wednesday, June 28.
Under Trump’s proposed budget, Energy Star and WaterSense programs, which help consumers purchase energy- and water-efficient appliances, would be eliminated, as well as the Office of Environmental Justice, which protects lower-income communities disproportionately affected by pollution. It would also remove funding for: Great Lakes and Lake Champlain clean-up programs; lead remediation support; marine, beach and fish safety programs; climate change research; and research into the dangers of pesticides. In addition, the budget would cut diesel emissions reduction grant programs by 80 percent, air and energy research by more than 60 percent and reduce funding for the already-underfunded Superfund program.
“The EPA’s work is important to all of us,” said Caitlin Pixley Ferrante, chapter coordinator of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “The EPA should continue to work to protect our families, our children, our future — not be forced to pander to polluters. 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.”
The campaign is calling on all New York congressional representatives to block the 31-percent budget cuts to EPA, focusing primarily on the nine New York republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. The coalition is asking all New Yorkers to call their representatives, on both sides of the aisle, to urge them to fight the multifaceted actions that Trump is taking to dismantle large swaths of EPA programs.
“In addition to placing anti-science, anti-environmental, and pro-industry allies throughout key positions atop of the EPA,” noted EANY in a press release, “the President has begun efforts to dismantle many climate, clean air and water, and clean energy programs, including reneging on the Paris Climate Agreement, cutting vehicle emission standards imposed after the auto industry bailout, and rolling back the Clean Water Rule.”
“Think about this the next time you dip your toes in Lake George or bob in the waves at Jones Beach,” said EANY Executive Director Peter Iwanowicz, “President Trump proposes to eviscerate the funding that goes to the states to oversee and monitor where we swim. The New York congressional delegation must join together across the state to reject these cuts . . . Let me be clear: people will get sick; our communities will suffer; the treasured spaces of New York that have begun to recover will once again be degraded if New Yorkers do not come together to block these cuts.”
Locally, at least one of the “NY Nine” has already indicated that he will oppose extensive cuts to the EPA budget.
“First of all, I oppose the proposed EPA budget from the administration,” said Rep. John Faso (R-19). “While there is certainly room for improvement at the EPA, I understand the importance of the agency’s role in protecting our environment and ensuring that we all have access to clean air and water. For the fiscal year 2018 budget, I have supported more than $5 billion in funding for a number of critical EPA programs involved with protecting clean water, reducing pollution, and advancing scientific research. I will continue to advocate for the effective programs within the EPA that support our shared goal of a cleaner environment while also balancing the needs of families and farmers.”
New Yorkers can take action by texting ‘SaveEPA’ to 52886 or calling 443-345-4405 to be automatically connected with their elected officials.