Op Ed: Lowey in Key Position to Stand Up to Trump and Fight to Save the EPA

As soon as he took office, President Trump and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), first under Scott Pruitt and now Andrew Wheeler, have launched an all-out assault on our children’s health by attacking common sense air and water protections. Though Pruitt was forced to resign under a pile of scandals, he has been replaced by a coal industry lobbyist who is all too eager to continue the selloff of our health and environmental protections to Trump’s polluting pals in the oil, gas, and coal industry.

When the people charged with leading our government are the very ones working to undermine it, other leaders must come forward in their place. Thankfully, the American people spoke up, deciding to send a new Congress to Washington to provide a check on the Trump administration’s destructive and corrupt agenda that put the interest of corporate polluters before the health and wellbeing of families and kids.

As a new majority prepares to lead the U.S. House of Representatives, House Democrats will assume command of influential committees that can direct policy and budget decisions, and put a wrench in the Trump administration’s attempts to strip the EPA of vital funding, overturn essential clean water protections or threaten America’s great outdoors, iconic species and wildlife. One of these leaders is New York’s own Congresswoman Nita Lowey, the likely next chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

Representative Lowey is a powerful voice in the fight to save the EPA as the current highest-ranking Democrat on the House appropriations panel. Lowey has used her influence on this spending committee to put the health of New York kids and our great nation’s outdoors first.

For example, last year, the Trump administration attempted to cut over $2.6 billion from the EPA’s budget. This reckless decision would have eliminated a quarter of the agency’s 15,000 jobs while further threatening the health of our air and water. New Yorkers would have suffered from these losses as initiatives to clean the Hudson River were also on the chopping block.

Lowey declared this assault on the EPA a “disaster.” She rallied her colleagues to block a repeal of the Clean Water Rule that prevented more pollution to New York waters. She helped stop Trump’s assault on EPA’s budget, and even facilitated a $700 million increase for water infrastructure projects. This was no small accomplishment. It helped communities everywhere who rely on a functioning EPA to protect the health and safety of their families.

Still, in the face of these pro-environmental victories, Trump doubled down on his crusade with a new budget proposal this year that would once again cut EPA funding by $2.5 billion—almost 25 percent.

Fortunately, Congresswoman Lowey also doubled down on her efforts to protect our land, air, and water. She challenged the EPA’s “strategic starving [of] programs that identify chemicals that could be harmful to children, while rolling back and delaying regulations for deadly chemicals.” It appears that this cut will fail like the last.

As New Yorkers—and as Americans—we can be grateful for the courage and persistence of leaders like Congresswoman Lowey. They help us protect programs that keep our families safe and healthy.

The next Congress will gavel in before we know it, but Congresswoman Lowey and her colleagues can help set the stage now during the current budget negotiations. This is good news for every person who believes that clean air and water is a right, not a privilege; every parent scared of the damage that exposure to dangerous toxins will have on their child; and every community that wants to preserve the integrity of the environment for future generations. With Lowey’s leadership and her forthcoming oversight of the EPA’s budget, the Trump administration’s destructive attempts to eviscerate the EPA will finally have met its match.

Peter Iwanowicz
Executive Director
Environmental Advocates of New York
(518) 462-5526

 

 

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