LETTER – Impacts of Government Shutdown

The United States Federal Government has shut down. The Republican Party failed to appropriate the funding that would allow the government it to continue operating. The shutdown is precipitated by Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, subsequently allowing no workable solution, and all the while pressing for what is widely recognized as an expensive and environmentally destructive border wall boondoggle. With this shut down, scientific research and environmental cleanup will pay the price.

 

“Republicans in Congress and the President are playing a cynical game in a government shutdown. They are trying to hold children and Dreamers hostage in a maneuver that is really about closing down the government. This looming shutdown will have major consequences on the people of the United States. The shutdown  will affect our quality of life but more importantly our public health and safety,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.  

 

With Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) terminated by the Trump Administration, 800,000 immigrants in the United States are at risk of deportation. The Dream Act would protect these young immigrants, providing opportunities for young people to continue to work and go to school, and improving our communities.

 

“The blame is on Trump, he is holding Dreamers and children’s health care hostage. He refuses to act on the urgent need to protect the Dreamers, who have lived in the United States nearly their entire lives, from senseless deportation,” said Tittel”. 

Shutting down the government means that the Environmental Protection Agency is effectively shuttered. Much of the staff at the EPA that safeguard our clean air and water and who keep our public lands safe will be sent home.  The United States Department of Agriculture will be affected by the shut-down. This includes its food safety and inspection service.

“When the government shuts down, no one will be monitoring the air or our drinking water to make sure it’s clean. There also be no one cleaning up toxic sites. Without enforcement it will be more likely to have accidents or deliberate dumping of chemicals. Polluters are not going to get caught if enforcement is sent home. No one will be checking if the food coming to our markets is safe to eat. Things like the shellfish inspection program will be shut down, ”said Tittel.  

 

The Trump administration is working to develop plans for keeping national parks and monuments open without rangers or staff present. Unprecedented plans for national parks and public lands will throw the park service, park visitors, and the communities surrounding our public lands into chaos.

“Keeping our National Parks open without staff on site is reckless. It may be good for the economy but will open doors for theft, vandalism and lost hikers. If visitors get lost, there will be no one to come and get them”, said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This shutdown is a result of the dysfunction and chaos that Trump embodies. Trump and Congressional Republicans appear unable to do anything but cut taxes for the rich, so now our public lands are in jeopardy, the agencies that safeguard our health and our communities are shuttered, and hundreds of thousands of public servants are out of work”.