NEW YORK, NY - A coalition of over two dozen organizations mobilized outside Senator Chuck Schumer’s office at noon on Thursday to demand that he oppose any and all cuts to the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The groups over 13,000 petitions calling on Schumer to oppose any EPA cuts in the upcoming federal budget negotiations. The Trump White House envisioned slashing the agency’s budget by an astonishing 31 percent. The House Appropriations Committee proposed a 7 percent cut, a move that would shrink the EPA budget to levels not seen since the early 1980s.
There will be immediate impacts of any budget cuts in New York, especially in communities that have suffered with air and water pollution, and those that are vulnerable to sea level rise. And the intensifying climate crisis underscores the need for robust public research on renewable energy, which will difficult with a severely diminished EPA.
"Senator Schumer must make a firm commitment to protecting the health and safety of New York communities by saying no to the EPA budget cuts proposed by Congressional Republicans and the Trump White House,” said Eric Weltman, New York organizer with Food & Water Watch. “Corporate polluters would be delighted with a diminished EPA, but the rest of us value clean air and water. We are depending on Senator Schumer to do the right thing.”
"The role of the EPA cannot be understated," said Kimberly Ong, staff attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We rely on the EPA to enforce all of our bedrock environmental laws, protect our drinking water, and clean up our most toxic places. Public health and a clean environment should not be a political game – let’s keep the EPA operative and fight these irrational budget cuts."
Caitlin O’Brien, environmental health associate at Environmental Advocates of New York, said: “Right now, the Gowanus Canal and Onondaga Lake are coming back to life because of the EPA. The residents of Hoosick Falls are no longer drinking water laced with likely carcinogens, we’ve dramatically reduced air pollution, and humpback whales are in New York Harbor for the first time in more than 100 years. In New York, our water and air are our lifeblood, and the EPA has saved lives. New Yorkers need our congressional delegation to save the EPA from unprecedented attacks from this president and industry-allies in Congress.”
"I would love to live in a world someday where we would not need an EPA, but that is not this world, and that is not today,” Smitha Varghese, Chairperson of NYPIRG's Board of Directors and a Queens College student. “The EPA is a critical line of defense to hold polluters responsible and protect our health. In a time of more frequent, extreme storms, and as climate change ravages communities across the world, it is unimaginable that the federal government would cut funding to the EPA. Students are looking to Senator Schumer to stand up against cuts to the EPA budget to help protect our health, our environment, and the future of our planet.”
"As the minority leader, Senator Schumer's job is more critical than ever and we're counting on him to use all his might to block this administration's attempts to gut the EPA budget,” said Lyna Hinkel of 350NYC. “With the impact of rapid climate change evident across the country, from Montana to Texas to Florida, we need more protections from the agency, not less. The public's very lives are at stake."
“America led the environmental movement and brought us from a land where our rivers caught fire and smog killed, to a healthier and more prosperous world,” said Friends of the Earth volunteer Cathy McConnell from Long Island. “By cutting the budget and intentionally undermining the EPA by firing scientists and replacing them with corporate hacks, Trump and Pruitt are circumventing the will of the American people, who overwhelmingly support efforts to keep our air and water clean. We must all stand together to save the EPA, and we expect Leader Schumer to lead the fight!”
Gaya Sriskanthan of the Brooklyn Movement Center added: “Middle to low income communities of color remain on the frontlines of environmental degradation. Such communities across the city face environmental justice problems such as higher air pollution and asthma rates, chemical pollution, the disproportionate burden of waste management facilities and greater vulnerability to climate change impacts. A weakened EPA will leave our communities less protected. We call on Senator Schumer to fight against cuts to the EPA on behalf of communities in Brooklyn and the rest of New York.”
"The violent storms and wildfires of the last month should be a wakeup call,” said Sean Petty of the New York State Nurses Association. “As nurses, we see the human toll of environmental destruction first hand. We treat the traumatic injuries, drownings, smoke inhalation, asthma, and myriad of other outcomes of climate-induced extreme weather events. There's also the daily violence of fossil fuel and other air and water pollutants that levy their toll on the humans of New York City. Especially in a place like a large public hospital in the Bronx, where I work in the Pediatric ER, you see every day who the most vulnerable victims of our new unfortunate reality. We desperately need agencies like the EPA to expand their work in helping to stem the possibility of runaway climate change and be a check on these killer industries. We won't stop fighting until that's a reality."
The Save the EPA event, led by Food & Water Watch, was co-sponsored by Environmental Advocates of New York, Riverkeeper, NYPIRG, the Sierra Club, New York Indivisible, Three Parks Independent Democrats, New York Interfaith Power & Light, Gas Free Seneca, Community Free Democrats, United Thru Action, 350NYC, Democracy for New York City, Natural Resources Defense Council, NYC Democratic Socialists of America, Friends of the Earth, New York Communities for Change, Jewish Climate Action Network, NYC Friends of Clearwater, NYPAN Enviro Committee, Grassroots Environmental Education, Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, Brooklyn Movement Center, Morningside Heights - West Harlem Sanitation Coalition, United for Action, and Indivisible We Stand UWS.