Activists rally against EPA budget cuts

Some worry the cuts may jeopardize communities during future storms.

On the way to a press conference, being held to protest cuts to the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department, NJTV News met Cheryl McCurry who was at Mantoloking Bridge Park with a group called re-clam the bay:

“These are some clams that we’ve grown so far and they’re two-months-old and then we’ll plant them in the bay and cover them with a predator net and mesh and grow them there,” explained McCurry.

For McCurry, she says she believes climate change will affect all of us, especially since she lives by the water in Ortley Beach.

During Superstorm Sandy she says they had about five feet of water in their area and a foot came into her house.

“The backyard was ruined, things floated down from all over,” she described, “houses, pieces of houses, sheds turned upside down, mud.”

That’s why she’s working to keep the bay healthy.

“I’m not ready to give up yet. I think you have to just dig in and work.” she said.

Neither are all these environmental groups, elected officials and community members just down the way who stood holding signs like ‘Save the EPA’, ‘Stop Offshore Drilling’ and ‘We Need Clean Air Protections’.

This group stood out here because they say they want complete funding for environmental programs. Right now, the president’s proposed budget cuts 30 percent from the EPA.

Some believe that’s the right thing to do, like EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who said at a budget hearing in June:

“With respect to the budget and these principles and priorities that I’ve outlined, I believe we can fulfill the mission of our agency with a trimmed budget. With proper leadership and management. We will work with congress, Mr. Chairman, to help focus on national priorities with respect to the resources that you provide. And we will continue to focus on our core missions, responsibilities, working cooperatively with states to improve air, water, and land.”

U.S. Representative Frank Pallone says it’s just too much.

“In addition to that there’s money in it to try to buy out thousands of EPA employees who provide scientific evidence and the rational for a lot of the regulations. So what we’re seeing is not only cuts to the budget but efforts, I think, to eliminate sound science as well.” he said.

Though the House Committee bill was less severe with its cuts, they still voted to remove $528M from what the EPA was budgeted in 2017. Congress goes back into session after Labor Day and, when they do, this group is fighting to get the house to reject the budget as it stands.

NJTV News met McCurry on her street after the press conference. She wanted to show us the street where she says six houses were destroyed during Sandy.

We’re elevated and the water came up to here,” said McCurry, “so we lost everything on the first floor, furnace, furniture, flooring, refrigerator, stove. The backyard was ruined, things floated down from all over, houses pieces of houses, sheds turned upside down, mud.”

Because, she says, they were some of the lucky ones. And so when it comes to the environment, everybody needs to do their part

“From planting native plants, from lowering fertilizer use, from driving economical parts,” McCurry advised.

We’re in this together
For a better-informed future. Support our nonprofit newsroom.
Donate to NJ Spotlight