By Michael Catalini
April 4, 2017
TRENTON – The country’s one-time top environmental regulator is joining several fellow former New Jersey governors and elected officials in warning about the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Republican Christine Todd Whitman, who served as EPA administrator from 2001 to 2003 under Republican President George W. Bush, said Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s proposal to cut the EPA budget by nearly one-third is “basically doing away with the agency.”
Trump seeks to reduce EPA’s budget to $5.7 billion from its $8.1 billion. That translates the elimination of more than 3,200 jobs, or about 20 percent of the agency’s current workforce of 15,000.
Whitman has been a vocal critic of Trump since last year’s campaign and has voiced opposition to Trump’s proposed budget cuts as recently as last week with an op-ed in The Atlantic.
The cuts aren’t final until they first move through the GOP-held Congress, and Whitman expressed optimism that New Jersey Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who chairs the influential Appropriations Committee, could factor in the decision. Frelinghuysen told The Record he didn’t think the House would approve such large cuts, but that trimming was necessary.
Whitman predicted stopping the cuts would require citizen involvement.
“It’s going to take the public to say we care about this issue,” said the former New Jersey governor, who served from 1994 to 2001. “And you can relate it back to them because it’s their air, their water, their life.”
New Jersey has more than 100 Superfund sites, greater than any other state.
Whitman joined former Democratic governors Brendan Byrne and James Florio and former GOP governor Tom Kean Sr. to call on the state’s congressional delegation to preserve EPA funding. Former Democratic Rep. Rush Holt and one-time Assemblywoman Maureen Ogden also joined the effort.
The former officials on Tuesday signed a set of policy principles aimed at combating climate change compiled by the nonprofit New Jersey Conservation Foundation.