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Op-Ed: Preparing for Environmental Changes Ahead

With the entire New Jersey Senate and Assembly up for election, we need to choose political leaders for whom the environment is a priority

Cindy Ehrenclou
Cindy Ehrenclou

With a new administration preparing to move in to the White House, changes are coming. Exactly what these changes will be is still unknown, but there’s cause for deep concern when it comes to the environment.

During the campaign, the president-elect spoke of shutting down the Environmental Protection Agency and dismantling the current administration’s climate change policies and regulations, including the Paris agreement.  

It’s an understatement to say this is extremely disheartening to folks who care about clean water, clean air, and healthy communities — now and for future generations. But protecting the environment is far from a lost cause.

As American author and motivational speaker William Arthur Ward noted, “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

It’s time for us to adjust the sails. Instead of looking to Washington for environmental leadership in the years ahead, we must instead look to leadership at the state, regional, and local levels.

New Jersey will elect a new governor in 2017, and it’s critically important that our next governor be an advocate for strong environmental protections. The entire New Jersey Senate and Assembly are up for election as well, and we need to choose political leaders for whom the environment is a priority.

For decades, New Jersey was a national leader in environmental protection, along with California. When other states needed models, they looked to New Jersey and California to learn what could be done and how to do it. The Garden State moved away from that role in recent years, but now it’s time to reassert our leadership.

Raritan Headwaters, along with our conservation partners, is facing many unknowns as a result of the impending changes in our federal government. We will need to commit resources to work with our allies in Congress to encourage them to dig in their heels and fight for the environment. 

As a leader on water issues in New Jersey, Raritan Headwaters will redouble its efforts at the state level. Locally and regionally, we will work to educate decision-makers and the public about threats to the health of our water supplies — and offer solutions.

Our federal government may be changing, but Raritan Headwaters’ mission is the same as it has been for nearly 60 years: to protect clean, plentiful water in the Raritan basin and beyond.

Now more than ever, we need the partnership of residents in our watershed. We hope you will join us in taking action to protect New Jersey’s environment and quality of life! To learn more about Raritan Headwaters, visit our website or call 908-234-1852.

Cindy Ehrenclou is the executive director of Raritan Headwaters.

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