Editor’s note: This updated version adds a Frelinghuysen response.
Asserting that Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s “priorities are wrong,” Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club on Thursday chided the Congressman for refusing to meet with constituents and for supporting Trump administration cuts to environmental programs.
“Congressman Frelinghuysen should not only meet with the people, but he should vote with the people, vote for clean air, for clean water, and do something about climate change,” Tittel said at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship in Morris Township.
About two dozen people heard environmental critiques of the 11th District Republican, and strategies for defeating him in next year’s midterm election.
“People in New Jersey care about the environment,” said Junior Romero of the Food and Water Action Fund. “They care about clean water and air. They care about cleaning up Superfund sites. Do the people they elect always do that? Do they always support the environment? No.”
Minority communities and the economically disadvantaged will suffer disproportionately if Superfund sites in Dover, Manville and Perth Amboy don’t get cleaned up, Romero said.
Doug O’Malley and Rebecca Scheer of NJ 11th for Change also spoke.
Frelinghuysen, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has voted against climate change protections, and for offshore drilling and fracking, mountaintop mining, and repeal of the Waters of the United States Rule, Tittel said.
Frelinghuysen spokesman Mike DuHaime responded:
“The Sierra Club has embarrassingly become pawns of the extreme left wing of the Democrat party rather than responsible champions of the environment. Rodney Frelinghuysen is the single most pro-environment Republican in Congress and just recently restored Superfund cleanup funding that had been stripped by President Trump.”
The proposed budget that cleared Frelinghuysen’s committee, Tittel said in a statement, includes:
· Cuts of up to 31 percent to the Environmental Protection Agency
· Cutting 69 percent from the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and cutting offshore wind and solar power subsidies and tax credit programs
· Eliminating the Energy Star Program ($493 million), Green Climate Fund and Global Climate Change Initiative ($1.59 billion)
· $5 billion in cuts to NOAA grants affecting climate and resiliency projects
· Encouraging seismic testing and offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans
· Withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement
· Eliminating the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan
“Congressman Frelinghuysen is siding with subsidies for corporate polluters against the people of his own district. He supports raising taxes on the middle class while giving tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry. His overall environmental performance is a disaster and it will have especially dangerous effects on New Jersey,” Tittel said.