As a mother, my top priority is advocating for the health and safety of my child. Recently, Congress listened to my voice and similar calls from hundreds of thousands of Americans to release a budget that rejects President Trump’s dangerous proposal to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We couldn’t have gotten to this point without leaders like Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., standing up for the health and well-being of our families.
Sen. Udall worked tirelessly alongside his colleagues in the House and Senate in order to secure level funding for the EPA that protects communities across the country for generations to come. This budget is a resounding win for hard-working families over the wealthy corporations and special interests that want to sell out our country’s future to boost their bottom line.
Since its founding in 1970, the EPA has been driven by its mission of protecting our children from pollution, toxic waste and dangerous chemicals. If Trump’s disastrous budget cuts had gone through, the already underfunded EPA and Interior Department would have been left decimated and without funding for thousands of staff members who help run the programs that keep our air and drinking water clean and our public lands open to the public. Trump’s proposed 31 percent – or nearly $2.6 billion – cut to EPA and 12 percent – or $1.6 billion – cut to the Interior Department would have meant more asthma attacks, more cancer and heart disease, more pollution in our communities, and fewer opportunities for our kids to experience the outdoors, public landscapes and wildlife in the same way we do today.
The FY18 budget package stands up for future generations by protecting the EPA programs that keep our drinking water clean, limit harmful pollution from oil and gas development, and fund the cleanup of toxic waste and Superfund sites across the country. The omnibus package also boosts funding for our national parks and reauthorizes funding for Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, which allows for higher-priority land acquisition in conservation areas, national parks, national wildlife refuges and on national forests. With funding for these EPA and Interior programs, I know my child will have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.
Thanks to Sen. Udall’s leadership, we successfully prevented several harmful policy provisions from being attached to the budget package. These policy provisions would have prevented the EPA from updating ozone air standards and blocked the implementation of the BLM and EPA methane rules that protect the air our kids breathe from dangerous pollution resulting from oil and gas operations. Sen. Udall took this a step further in a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, where he urged him to hold public hearings on his proposal to significantly roll back the BLM methane rule and listen to the overwhelming majority of New Mexicans and Westerners who support a rule limiting harmful methane pollution resulting from oil and gas operations on public lands.
While Congress rejected serious cuts to critical programs that protect public health and the environment, there is still plenty of work to be done – and we are grateful to have leaders like Sen. Udall at the helm, working to protect our families health. The Trump administration’s attacks on the environment and public health will undoubtedly continue, which means we must continue fighting to protect the critical environmental and public health safeguards for our communities in future budget proposals.
Our leaders in Congress have a moral obligation to put the health and well-being of children and hard-working families before powerful corporations and wealthy oil and gas executives. We must continue demanding that our elected representatives stay vigilant and protect funding for these public health and environmental safeguards against ongoing Republican attacks on our health, the outdoors and our future.
Celerah Hewes grew up in Corrales. After moving to San Francisco to get her MA in U.S History, she returned home to New Mexico to have a family and has been working with local businesses who believe that taking care of people and protecting air, land, and water is as important as profit.