Dems’ budget proposal targets DEP for cutbacks

The Democrats’ budget proposal seeks to restore funding in a lot of areas – schools, police, hospitals – but one area it would cut is the environment.

The majority party’s budget unveiled today recommends cutting $16 million from the Department of Environmental Protection.

According to Jeff Tittel, director of the N.J. Sierra Club, he suspects that much of it would be a result of the corporate business tax cut, and that it would translate to less money to clean up toxic sites or remediate and build on Brownfields, which he said would impede jobs growth.

He said it probably will hinder efforts to remove underground storage tanks, an area already suffering from a lack of funds.

Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the DEP, said the department could not comment about what might be affected until it sees specifics and has a chance to assess them.

According to Tittel, $2 million will be cut from the Underground Storage Tank program, which helps homeowners remove old oil tanks. Toxic cleanup programs will be cut by $1.6 million.

Under the Democratic proposal, over $2 million would be cut from watershed programs that help to clean up waterways, $2.4 million would be cut from the diesel cleanup programs used to retrofit school buses, and $1 million would be cut from the administrative cost of cleanups, according to the Sierra Club.

“We are making additional cuts to programs that have already seen many cuts over the years and where there are tremendous amounts of demands for these programs,” Tittel said.

Dems’ budget proposal targets DEP for cutbacks