NJ 11th For Change came to Montclair State University to discuss Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget cuts last Tuesday in the Center for Environmental and Life Sciences building. The town hall meeting was held on campus because Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen would not hold one otherwise.
NJ 11th For Change is an unaffiliated alliance that advocates for all citizens in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District, which includes parts of Essex, Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties. People in the district say they are against Frelinghuysen because he doesn’t listen to the voices of the citizens.
Some of the issues discussed included Frelinghuysen’s environmental records and budget cuts from the EPA, Department of the Interior and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Speakers who presented at the meeting included Rebecca Scheer from NJ 11th For Change, Jeff Tittel from New Jersey’s Sierra Club, Matt Smith from New Jersey’s Food & Water Watch and Harriet Shugarman from Climate Mama.
As the House Appropriations chair, Frelinghuysen had the power to block cutbacks to the EPA and other important environmental programs.
The brief introductory presentation was done by Tittel who talked about the EPA budget cuts.
Many of the locals and non-locals who showed up at the meeting were intrigued by some of the topics mentioned, which led to many concerns of how to resolve the issues.
“I am not heavily involved with NJ 11th For Change, but I do believe that the EPA budget cuts are stupid,” said Ananya Chandra, a 15-year-old sophomore at East Brunswick High School. “They are very brash and people are into the wrong consideration.”
According to Tittel, Frelinghuysen’s budget already calls for a 10 percent cut to EPA funding and President Trump wants a 31 percent cut in the budget. The $1 billion in grants for these programs have stopped; some state programs have been cut and parks run by the Department of Environmental Protection have closed.
“I am finding out new information right now about Frelinghuysen,” said local resident Sharon Rothbart. “I would rather not have him represent the people in this community in New Jersey and he is not taking a stand on issues in the way that is most important to certain people.”
NJ 11th For Change’s Scheer also explained how New Jersey has the most hazardous waste sites in the country. The budget proposed by Frelinghuysen’s committee seeks to cut the Superfund program – a federal program that funds the cleanup of hazardous waste sites – by more than 30 percent.
“Frelinghuysen is bad for his district and country,” said local resident Jill Arbuckle. “He is kind of moving his stand like President Trump.”