For over six months, a broad coalition of New York environmental, labor, and community groups have pressed Senator Chuck Schumer to protect the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency from the White House and Congressional Republicans. As Senate Minority Leader, Schumer is the nation’s most powerful Democrat, with broad authority to block Trump’s extreme agenda. Along with our allies, we have sent thousands of petitions, generated hundreds of phone calls, and held nearly 20 rallies at his offices across the state.
On October 12, we got our answer. Joined by the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, Environmental Advocates of New York and other partners, Senator Schumer declared at a press conference at the La Plaza Cultural Community Garden on Manhattan’s Lower East Side that the cutting the EPA was not an option.
“Dismantling America’s climate, clean air and water and environmental programs doesn’t put America first, it puts America last—in recognizing science, in being a world leader in protecting our communities and in working together with other nations to safeguard our planet for future generations,” he said. “For the sake of our planet and the future of America, I will do everything in my power to protect the EPA from these disastrous cuts.”
If Republican politicians succeed in weakening the EPA, it would impact the communities that already suffer from higher air pollution and asthma rates, and are more vulnerable to climate change impacts. After the Trump administration called for an astonishing 31 percent cut to the EPA, Republican leaders in the House countered with a plan to cut the EPA budget by seven percent, which would shrink the agency’s budget to levels not seen since the early 1980s.
“The Republican assault on the environment will hit low-income communities and communities the hardest, reversing decades of victories achieved through the struggles and leadership of communities at the frontlines of environmental crises,” said Eddie Bautista of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance.
And Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, added: “President Trump’s agenda is a clear and present danger to the health and lives of every single person in our state, especially low-income communities, and people of color.”
The stakes of this fight could not be any clearer. If the Republicans win these cuts to the EPA, people will suffer, and people will die. More children will struggle with lead poisoning and asthma. More families will breathe polluted air and drink poisoned water. And more communities will be wrecked by the ravages of climate change.
We called on Senator Schumer to say no to any cuts to the EPA budget, and to rally fellow Democrats to do the same. We know that he heard us loud and clear, and we appreciate his leadership in responding to our concerns.