U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Nydia Velázquez have sounded the alarm and expressed serious concerns over the Trump administration’s proposal to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget by $2.6 billion, or 31 percent.
As part of the EPA’s budget, the Administration has proposed cutting the Hazardous Substance Superfund Account by $330 million and cutting Superfund enforcement by $28.9 million.
The lawmakers said that a portion of these federal funds aid in the cleanup efforts currently underway at Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, one of the most contaminated waterways in the country, and vowed to fight to protect funding for this crucial program.
“Cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund budget could be detrimental to the cleanup efforts currently underway at the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn,” said Senator Schumer. “President Trump’s proposal would take an axe to federal funds we need to keep our water clean to drink, our beaches safe to swim in and our air safe to breathe and that’s why I will do everything in my power to beat back this radical effort to slash the EPA’s budget.”
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez said, “Time and again, this Administration has shown a determination to put polluters ahead of the public health and the environment. This extends to the White House’s proposal to slash funding for EPA and its Superfund program, hobbling cleanup efforts at sites like the Gowanus Canal. We must stand united in opposing these ill-conceived cuts, which will damage our communities.”
In the 1800s the Gowanus Canal was used as a major industrial transportation route and sat adjacent to manufacturing and chemical plants that discharged its waste into the waterway. Sanitary waste from sewer systems has also continued to flow into the Canal.
As a result, according to the EPA, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation’s most seriously contaminated water bodies. In 2010, the EPA added the Gowanus Canal to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List. The cost of the cleanup plan is estimated to be $500 million.