When Governor Chris Christie took office, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) budget was $387 million but it will drop to $274 million under the Republican’s latest spending plan, more then $2 million less than the state spent last year.
“Cutting environmental protection is like surrendering to an attack on the lives, health and safety of our citizens,” said Lisa McCormick, a Democratic activist. “If a foreign country polluted our air or water, jeopardizing the lives of innocent Americans, Republicans like Chris Christie would be screaming for war but when corporate polluters spread cancer among our kids, these GOP politicians push tax breaks instead.”
“There is no way to justify a 30 percent reduction in environmental protection while we have lax enforcement of laws designed to protect our land, air and water,” said McCormick. “Some issues still facing New Jersey are sewer overflows, unhealthy air quality, polluted waterways, and cleaning up the legacy of toxic waste dumps. New Jersey’s environmental problems are well-known, but Christie shows no concern for these dangers because he does not care about our children and taxpayers who are at risk.”
McCormick was not alone in faulting the Republican spending plan for its environmental weakness.
“Every year, the Governor’s priorities in the budget are wrong; he gives tax cuts to corporations and budget cuts to important environmental programs,” said Jeff Tittel, of the Sierra Club. “This year he has continued to cut more DEP staff and programs, while rolling back environmental protections.”
“Commissioner Martin is trying to put a good face on the department where staff is down, morale is low, and the remaining staff left are spending all of their time rolling back environmental protections,” said Tittel. “What he is doing is trying to justify the unjustifiable and defend the indefensible.”
“Claims that government regulations hold back the economy ignore the roots of our real problems, such as the collapse of the housing market, the financial crash and inadequate demand,” said McCormick. “Our economy was booming when America had high taxes rates on the wealthy and corporations, effective regulation to protect consumers and the environment, investment in infrastructure and our people, combined with strong unions to insure fair wages and increasing benefits.”
“Our economy cannot function without a healthy environment,” said McCormick. “It is short-sighted to ignore life-threatening dangers to save a few dollars. Big tax cuts for the wealthy and shifting burdens from the rich to the poor are terrible injustices that have become all too common. Chris Christie is to blame.”