A bi-partisan group of former New Jersey elected officials on Tuedsay announced that, despite differences in politics, they were joining together to push environmental advocacy issues in Washington, D.C. The group — which includes former Governors Tom Kean (R), Christie Whitman (R), Jim Florio (D) and Brendan Byrne (D), as well as former Democratic Congressman Rush Holt and former NJ Assemblywoman Maureen Ogden (R) — wants New Jersey’s current congressional delegation to fight to protect public land, water, air and wildlife.
The former elected officials on Tuesday released the “Principles to Protect our Public Lands, Water, Air and Wildlife.” Those principles claim that environmental protections are “fundamental to the economic success and vitality” of both the state and the nation, that the environment is fundamental to health/well-being, and that “environmental protection must remain a bipartisan matter.” In their letter the officials also call for support of environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and Wilderness Act and Antiquities Act. Additionally, they push for protection of public land, promoting renewable energy, an acknowledgement of climate change and demand that “all federal agencies, policies and laws be grounded in sound science.”
According to a joint statement, the call for environmental protections is due to the current political climate at a “time when the nation’s environmental laws and regulations are facing unprecedented efforts to rescind and weaken them in Washington.” Last month, President Donald Trump signed a sweeping executive order to change U.S. regulations to carbon emissions, boost coal production and reduce considerations of climate change in other federal rules. During the 2016 presidential election, Whitman was one of the most notable Republicans in New Jersey to vocally oppose Trump during his campaign. She is also the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush.
During a Tuesday press call announcing the principles, Whitman said that New Jersey elected officials cannot allow for national policies to effect the health of state residents. As a former EPA official, Whitman criticized Trump’s recent call for steep cuts to the agency.
“Thirty-one percent cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency… is basically doing away with the agency,” Whitman said. “It is doing away with enforcement, it is doing away with environmental research that tells us what is acceptable for human health, what can we tolerate without doing away with the future. This is extremely important. While I know it is easy for people to say they hate regulation because it forces them to do something or spend money on a problem I don’t think is real, I don’t think they have fully thought through the consequences of what happens when we stop protecting our environment.”
Read the full statement of principles here.