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As former New Jersey governors called on the state’s congressional delegation Tuesday to defend the environment, one South Jersey Republican spoke out against President Trump’s move to slash federal funding for environmental protection.
“These drastic cuts proposed to the EPA will not fly in Congress, and are a nonstarter with me,” U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo said in a statement, describing “bipartisan opposition to hamstring environmental protection efforts.”
U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, another South Jersey Republican, did not voice similar opposition to Trump’s proposed 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency — which former Republican Gov. Christie Whitman said would result in “basically doing away with the agency.”
Asked Tuesday about the proposed EPA cuts, a MacArthur spokeswoman said in a statement that “Congressman MacArthur remains focused on how he can ensure South Jersey’s needs are represented throughout the entire appropriations process,” while noting his support for conservation efforts.
In a press call Tuesday, Whitman — who served as EPA commissioner under President George W. Bush — said “it’s easy for people to say they hate regulation.”
But “I don’t think they’ve fully thought through the consequences of what’s going to happen when we stop protecting our environment,” she said.
Whitman, who was joined on the call by former Democratic Govs. Brendan T. Byrne and James J. Florio, urged New Jersey’s congressional delegation to stand up for environmental protection.
Along with former Republican Gov. Thomas H. Kean, former Democratic Rep. Rush Holt, and former Republican Assemblywoman Maureen Ogden, the former governors have signed onto a set of principles that environmental advocates plan to ask the state’s congressional delegation to endorse.
The principles, which were put forward by the New Jersey Conservation Association, include pledging to “support and defend environmental laws,” like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.
Environmental laws will be threatened if the EPA cuts are enacted, Florio said.
“When you get rid of the personnel and money to enforce the law, you effectively repeal the law,” he said, arguing that protecting water and other resources was essential not just for health purposes, but economic development.
The principles also call for officials to “protect and defend public lands” and public funding for preservation; to promote renewable energy and energy conservation; and to “demand that all federal agencies, policies and laws be grounded in sound science.”
“We will work to address the critical and impending threat of manmade climate change that faces our nation and our world,” the document reads.
Trump’s EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, has said he disagrees that man-made carbon emissions are a primary contributor to global warming, despite scientific consensus to the contrary.
“I am definitely concerned with some of these proposed cuts to the EPA,” U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, a Democrat, said through a spokeswoman. “I believe in science and that our policy should be based on science. Any turn away from climate change is alarming.”
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