Washington - U.S. Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today released their assessment of the Bush environment budget and its impact on the Garden State. Their analysis uncovered budget cuts to critical programs geared toward making our communities and homes more energy efficient, as well as the Bush Administration's plans to block efforts to fight global warming.
"President Bush has proposed a budget that would put our environment in serious danger. In addition to reducing funding for the programs that protect our air, water and climate, this budget simply dismisses the issue of global warming," said Lautenberg. "I will fight for more funding to protect our environment and keep our air and drinking water clean, and our state safe from dangerous toxic materials."
"The more the administration falls behind in addressing the climate crisis, the more we will see devastating floods, disastrous storms and an erosion of the Jersey Shore," said Senator Menendez. "This budget fits an administration that has done as little as possible to address our environmental challenges, and it would take badly-needed resources away from environmental programs in New Jersey. I will stand up to protect the land, water and air in our state."
President Bush's proposed budget has the lowest level of overall funding for natural resources and the environment since 2001, and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget would be cut by $330 million from last year's levels. New Jersey and other states are hit particularly hard by major cuts to EPA's grant programs, which are essential to ensure that our communities have safe water, clean air, and are free from hazardous waste.
While New Jersey has the most Superfund sites in the country, the Bush administration has dramatically slowed the pace of cleaning them up. In the late 1990s, more than 80 sites were finished each year. However, the Bush Administration was only able to finish 24 sites in 2007, and with funding for Superfund cleanup reduced by $700 million in the President's budget, it is likely that the slow pace of cleanup will continue.
The budget slashes the Clean Water State Revolving Fund by nearly $135 million from last year's levels, which would cut funding to New Jersey by $5.5 million. These critical funds help communities upgrade their infrastructure and ensure water used for drinking, swimming and other recreation are free of untreated sewage and other contaminants.
Sens. Lautenberg and Menendez, both members of the Senate Budget Committee, pledged to work within the Congressional budget process to ensure New Jerseyans are not forced to endure the major cuts proposed by President Bush.
President's FY2009 Environment Budget:
Undermining Protections, Putting Families At Risk
The President's budget for FY2009 once again calls for an overall cut to federal spending on clean air, clean water, land conservation, and other environmental programs. New Jersey and other states are hit particularly hard by major cuts to EPA's grant programs, which are essential for ensuring that our communities have safe water, clean air and are free from hazardous waste.
The President's FY08 Budget:
v Proposes to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)
v Sells off public land in order to marginally reduce the deficit
v Eliminates programs to help low-income Americans combat heating costs
v Sharply cuts environmental grants to states
v Slows the pace of toxic site cleanups
v Underfunds efforts to combat climate change
PUTTING CLEAN AIR AND CLEAN WATER AT RISK
v Cuts Funding for Clean Water in Communities. The budget slashes the Clean Water State Revolving Fund by nearly $135 million from last year's levels, which would cut funding to New Jersey by $5.5 million. These critical funds help communities upgrade their infrastructure and ensure water used for drinking, swimming and other recreation are free of untreated sewage and other contaminants. In addition, the budget proposes to cut the Nonpoint Source grant program for the fifth year in a row, which could result in New Jersey getting less money to control polluted runoff into streams, rivers, and lakes.
v Eliminating the Targeted Watershed Program. The President's budget completely eliminates EPA's Targeted Watershed program, which provides grants to encourage successful community-based approaches and techniques to ensuring healthy and clean watersheds. In the past five years, New Jersey has received more than $2.5 million from this program to help protect the Raritan River, Passaic River, and Lake Hopatcong watersheds.
v Reduces Funding for Clean Air. President Bush's budget aims to reduce the funding for the Clean Air Act in FY2009, by $23 million, a potential 7.5-percent decrease in funding for New Jersey to combat air pollution and the hazards resulting from climate change. This marks a consistent downward funding trend in the President's budget.
DOES NOT LOOK FORWARD TO A SMART ENERGY FUTURE
v Ignores Global Warming. The President has been slow to acknowledge the need to combat global warming, and this budget reflects that. In addition to reducing funding to the Climate Protection Program, the President proposes to eliminate funding to simply measure America's greenhouse gas emissions. Also, the President has proposed to slash the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program budget by almost 30 percent and cut solar energy research by more than $10 million. This is a significant blow to New Jersey, which is second only to California in the number of solar installations. Despite some promising comments at the State of the Union, it is clear President Bush does not understand the urgency or the scale of the energy and environmental challenges we face.
v Fewer Resources to Help with Skyrocketing Home Heating Costs. The budget calls for eliminating weatherization programs that are currently funded at over $220 million. For New Jersey this would constitute a loss of more than $4.5 million in funding that helps lower energy bills by increasing the energy efficiency of low?income homes. Weatherization permanently reduces heating bills by 20 to 40 percent for low?income families. The budget also cuts the Low?Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) by 22 percent, which will mean more than 150,000 families in New Jersey will have to forgo $17 million in home heating assistance.
v Promoting Irresponsible Drilling. The President's budget calls for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). This land, which is home to countless species, is a unique and important area, and faces a major threat from drilling and oil spills.
UNDERMINING CONSERVATION EFFORTS
v Shortchanges Recreation and Conservation. For the sixth straight year, the President is trying to cut the Land and Water Conservation Fund and eliminate state grants, which provide money for conservation activities throughout New Jersey. Over the last 40 years, New Jersey has received more than $330 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has helped create the Delaware Water Gap and Gateway National Recreation Areas, the Cape May and Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuges, Morristown and Edison National Historic sites, and hundreds of state and municipal parks, ball fields, playgrounds, and golf courses throughout the state.
v Puts our Forests at Risk. The budget proposes to cut the Forest Service's Forest Legacy program by over 75 percent, from $52 million in FY2008 to $12.5 million in FY2009. The Forest Legacy program has allowed for the purchase and protection of over 4,100 acres of forest in New Jersey, but without proper funding, thousands of acres in the Sparta Mountain South region will remain unprotected.
v Shortchanges our Wildlife Refuges. The President's budget flatlines the funding for the National Wildlife Refuge system. With New Jersey's refuges facing major budgetary shortfalls, resulting in lack of proper staffing, leaving funding flat poses a major risk to New Jersey's pristine refuges.
KEEPING TOXINS IN OUR COMMUNITIES
v Allows Companies to Dodge Cleanup Costs. The Bush Administration has again refused to reinstate the "polluter pays" tax on chemical and oil companies to pay for cleanup of the nation's worst hazardous waste sites, which means taxpayers will continue to pay a larger share for cleanups.
v Slows Cleanup of Contaminated Sites. New Jersey has the most Superfund sites in the country, but the administration has dramatically slowed the pace of cleaning them up. In the late 1990's, over 80 sites were finished each year. The Bush administration has only finished cleaning 24 sites in 2007, and with funding for Superfund cleanup reduced by $700 million in the President's budget, it is likely that the slow pace of cleanup will continue.
v Failing to Ensure Environmental Justice. The budget proposes to cut EPA's Environmental Justice program by 67 percent, which will make it tougher for low-income and minority communities to fix situations where they are disproportionately affected by pollution. New Jersey has been one of the key battlegrounds in the fight for environmental justice.