Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump victory has shocked NJ enviros focusing on 2017

New Jersey's environmental leaders reacted on Wednesday to the election of Donald Trump with shock, despair and anger as the prospect of a diminished Environmental Protection Agency began to take hold.

David Giambusso writes for Politico:

While Gov. Chris Christie has not been an environmental champion during his tenure, the EPA under President Obama has often been an important ally in New Jersey's fight to clean up decades of toxic waste, air pollution and water pollution.
Now, with a year left under some kind of Republican leadership both at the state and federal level, environmental advocates and Democrats expressed deep concerns about potential damage, and pinned their hopes more strongly than ever on a Democratic governor in 2017.
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New Jersey is grappling with a host of chemicals in its drinking water, thanks to industrial polluters from decades past. There are also a number of Superfund sites throughout the state. Emissions from power generators and transportation are a major concern. All of these issues are under the purview of the EPA.
"My belief is that Trump will appoint an administrator to the EPA that will not have the interests of the planet at heart," state Sen. Bob Smith said in an interview. "Whatever progress we were starting to make under Obama I think it's going to be trashed. I don't want to sound like a doomsday prophet but that election was not good for the environment."
Democrats and green groups are engaged in multiple battles in New Jersey to protect air quality, remove lead chromium and the chemical PFOA from drinking water, cut emissions from power generators, slow the spread of pipelines throughout the state and protect the Highlands and Pinelands regions from encroaching development. Victories against the Christie administration have been rare and now prospects for future gains seem even more bleak.
Assemblyman John McKeon, vice chairman of the Committee on Environment and Solid Waste, said he wanted to wait and see if Trump's actions will match his campaign rhetoric, which he called frightening.
During his campaign, Trump called global warming a hoax, said he plans to roll back regulations on fossil fuels, pull the nation out of international efforts to address climate change and dismantle limits on emissions from power plants.
"The prospect of someone that doesn't believe in climate change being at the helm of the federal government with a Republican Senate and Congress is a real difficult thought," McKeon said in an interview. "I know how much damage Chris Christie was able to do in New Jersey and he was just the governor."
As governor, Christie pulled the state of the Regional Greenhouse Initiative, encouraged the expansion of natural gas pipelines and has sought to loosen restrictions on development near high quality water sources.
Environmental leaders now are gunning for 2017 with renewed determination.
"We're lining up all this legislation, vetting it and getting it ready for what we hope will be a Democratic governor," Smith said.
Among the legislative priorities are clean energy funding, solar expansion, Highlands and Pinelands protections, electronic waste and food waste.
"In many ways we're going to have, potentially, a reverse scenario," to now, said Doug O'Malley, head of Environment New Jersey. "There's a likelihood we'll have to be defending against federal rollbacks but we'll have a more progressive environmental leader in the Statehouse."
He said that organization will be key if Trump starts cutting back EPA protections. One bright spot in Tuesday's election for New Jersey greens is that their ranks are likely to swell.
"There's not really a silver lining but when you have conservative administration, people take notice," O'Malley said. "We'll likely see more people joining organizations because they're going to be outraged by Trump."
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