Friday, November 18, 2016

Why New Jersey environmentalists fear Trump presidency

New Jersey Pinelands scene - Ernest Cousins photo
The Asbury Park Press asked NJ environmentalist what they expected from the incoming Trump administration. Nothing but bad things was the common answer along five topic lines: Climate Change; Offshore Drilling, Superfund Sites,  Pipelines and Renewable Energy.

Russ Zimmer reports:

As shocked as anyone by Donald Trump's victory, leading environmentalists in New Jersey are taking stock of what his presidency could mean and ticking off a host of question marks and worries, policy matters touching virtually every corner of the state.

With more Superfund sites than any other state, shrinking green spaces and rising seas, environmental issues in New Jersey take on many forms. None has a certain future or course with Trump setting environmental priorities and policy, environmentalists across the state told the Asbury Park Press,

“He is the biggest threat to the environment since before the first Earth Day," said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "We may see 45 years of progress rolled back, but we expect to continue the fight ... and the people are on our side. They want clean air and clean water. They don’t want drilling off our coast."

Trump so far has been short on specifics about how he'd protect the water and air, but on the campaign trail he often promoted expanding the capture and use of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil — carbon-based fuels that are driving climate change.

"There's very little to like in his environmental platform, as far as I’m concerned," former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican who ran the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for two years under President George W. Bush, told USA TODAY.

Environmental advocates are waiting for any sign that President Trump might look at these matters differently than candidate Trump.

“We honestly don’t know yet," said Bob Kopp, climate scientist and associate director of Rutgers Energy Institute. "We are still waiting to see who he is going to appoint, and that will be telling.”

The first step in that direction is not likely to allay the angst of environmentalists.

Trump has appointed Myron Ebell, a noted climate change denier, to lead the handoff of the EPA — an agency Ebell has previously said should be abolished. The president-elect's transition team did not respond to a request for comment.

"If we take President-elect Trump at his word that he wants to dismantle the EPA and environmental rollbacks are going to be at the top of the (first) 100-day agenda," said Doug O'Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. "We need to be ready and work to get New Jerseyans of all political stripes to stand up against these rollbacks."

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