CDRW Expresses Concern Over Lack of Delaware River Investments in President’s 2019 Budget Proposal

 Photo credit: Delaware River Means

Photo credit: Delaware River Means

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 14, 2018
Contact: Rita Yelda, Rita.Yelda@njaudubon.org, 732-979-0655

Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed Expresses Concern Over Lack of Delaware River Investments in President’s 2019 Budget Proposal

Proposed 2019 Presidential Budget Bad News for the Delaware River Watershed

TRENTON, NJ – Earlier this week President Trump released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2019, failing to include needed funding for important conservation and stewardship programs that provide direct benefits to the Delaware River Watershed’s ecological health and the 15 million people that rely on the watershed for drinking water.

“We were dismayed to see critical funding for environmental programs cut. Now is not the time for rollbacks, but rather a time for smart investments in our watershed for the people, wildlife, and businesses that rely on it,” said Kelly Mooij, Vice President of Government Relations for New Jersey Audubon and Co-Chair of Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed.

In 2016, the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed cheered the bipartisan passage of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, which established the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program to provide needed funding to catalyze important conservation and restoration projects and support a basin-wide strategy for conservation efforts. However, the President’s 2019 budget request misses the mark on protecting and restoring the Delaware River, as it does not include funding for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program nor does it include funding for the Delaware River Basin Commission.

“The Delaware River Basin is significant because it encompasses parts of Delaware, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania -- and supplies over 15 million people with clean, reliable drinking water. The Basin is also a major economic driver for the region, bringing in $25 billion annually in economic activity. Not investing in the Delaware River is a disservice to the people and businesses that call the watershed home,” added Brenna Goggin, Advocacy Manager, Delaware Nature Society.

“When the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act passed with bipartisan support, it illustrated that Congress understood the value in the Delaware River Watershed. Water quality and outdoor recreation is the life-blood of the Upper Delaware Region, and we rely on programs like these to protect our resources and economy,” said Jeff Skelding, Executive Director, Friends of the Upper Delaware River.

The President’s budget cuts the funding provided to the Environmental Protection Agency by approximately 34%, though this agency oversees and administers the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The 2019 budget also slashes funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund by 90%, which has provided funding to protect outdoor spaces throughout the Delaware River Watershed, such as Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

“The President’s 2019 budget kicks the legs out from under our nation’s oldest and most popular conservation programs such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, while continuing to starve the watershed of the funding commitment that the federal government has made to the Delaware River Restoration Program and the Delaware River Basin Commission. We urge Congress to reject the President’s budget and to develop funding plans that prioritize the Delaware River Basin,” stated Mark Zakutansky, Director of Conservation Policy Engagement, Appalachian Mountain Club.

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The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed is a network of 120 non-governmental organizations dedicated to protecting and restoring the natural resources of the Delaware River Basin. To find out more about the Coalition, visit www. DelRiverWatershed.org.