Officials and advocates gather to fight cuts to EPA budget

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BRICK TOWNSHIP — Gathered at the foot of the Mantoloking Bridge Thursday, nearly five years after Superstorm Sandy, local Democratic and Republican officials joined environmentalists to take a stand against the proposed funding cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA].

“These cuts affect our home, they affect each and every one of us. Our way of life, how we define ourselves, coastal living,” said Britta Wenzel, executive director of Save Barnegat Bay, which organized the rally, which also drew local mayors and council members from Bay Head, Point Pleasant Beach, Mantoloking, Lavallette and Brick Township.

In an unusual show of bipartisan unity, officials on both sides of the political aisle condemned the proposed cuts and warned of the dire local impact that would result from President Donald Trump’s proposal to cut the EPA2018 budget by 31 percent.

Under the budget, 46 programs are completely eliminated, including the Natural Estuary Program, Pollution Prevention grants and Beach Monitoring, among others, while programs like Superfund, Wetland Program Development Grants and Public Water System Supersvision face deep cuts.

“We’re here today to say to President Trump, ‘Hands off our environment.’ You’ve declared war on the environment by going after EPA funding, by cutting and eliminating programs and we’re here to say, ‘Not anymore,’” said Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club.

Representatives from a myriad of environmental organizations, including Save Barnegat Bay, Food and Water Watch and Clean Water Action, were also present to speak out against the cuts proposed by the Trump administration.

 

For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.