LETTER – Lopez- New EPA Region 2 Administrator- Will He Stand Up to Trump?

Assemblyman Peter Lopez, R-Schoharie County, has been selected as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new Region 2 administrator. Region 2 covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The announcement was made in an email from Acting Region 2 Administrator Catherine McCabe. Lopez is expected to join the EPA Oct. 1. Lopez was first elected to the Legislature in 2006 and is part of the Assembly’s Republican minority.Between 2012 and 2016, he received ratings from Environmental Advocates that Sierra Club is part of between 40- 70 percent given his voting record on the environment. He was never endorsed by Sierra Club or League of Conservation Voters. We are concerned given his record on the environment because he has been pro-fracking, pipelines, andconservative on women’s rights and labor issues. Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club released the following statement:


“Given the Trump Administration’s war on the environment, they could have selected someone much worse than Assemblyman Lopez as EPA Region 2 Administrator. We still have major concerns because he has a record of being pro-fracking and voted against major climate and electric vehicles bills. For a Republican, he is sort of moderate, and he is better than most. Our question is will he go in lock step with Trump and Pruitt to dismantle protections for clean air and water and action on climate change? Whether he is good or bad on the environment, Trump and Pruitt will be calling the shots. Our biggest concern is not Lopez, but all the threats coming out of Washington D.C. Regional Administrators have a lot of independence, but will he stand up to Trump’s attack on our environment? Regardless of what anyone says about him, we are concerned that Lopez will be carrying out the orders of the Trump Administration to roll back environmental protections.”


“Given Lopez’s record in the New York state legislature, we have concerns about how he will be on the environment and how independent he will be. He opposed the moratorium on fracking in New York and attacked the Cuomo Administration for having former environmental lobbyists from the Sierra Club working in the Department of Environmental Conservation. At the same time, he was one time an intern at an environmental group and even did an event with the Sierra Club. Between 2012 and 2016, he received ratings from Environmental Advocates that Sierra Club is part of between 40- 70 percent given his voting record on the environment.”


“With Lopez’s record being pro-fracking and pipelines, we are very concerned that he will go along with Trump’s dirty energy policy instead of moving forward with renewable energy. In 2014 in voted for a climate change bill, but last year he switched his position and voted against the Climate and Communities Protection Act to move forward with renewable energy. He also voted against the Electric Vehicle Tariff Bill as well as opposed the Environmental Justice Bill. Even though his record has improved in recent years, we are still concerned about his views on dirty fuels and climate change.”


“Lopez even had attempted to run for the Unites States Congress. This will be also a concern that he seems to have lot of political ambitions for higher office and may want to do Trump’s bidding. In the past, many Regional Administrators have stood up for the environment against their own headquarters. Jane Kenny stood up against the Fast Track and Xanadu. Alan Steinberg also opposed the Permit Extension Act and protection of wetlands in the Meadowlands. We hope he will be independent like they have.”


“Looking at he did recently in New York, we are concerned Lopez may follow President Trump and Scott Pruitt’s attack on the environment to cater to the fossil fuel industry. He also has been anti-regulation, while being conservative on women’s rights and labor issues. We are even more concerned that he has voted against funding in the Department of Environmental Conservation budget, which is in line with Trump’s attempts to go after the environment by slashing the EPA budget. We are concerned how Lopez will deal with DEP oversight, toxic sites, and Superfund clean-ups in Ringwood, which are some of the major issues we are dealing with.”


“Without the EPA, kids would be swimming in sewage on our beaches, while polluters will be allowed to threaten our air and water. With Trump’s plans to cut the budget, New Jersey will be impacted more than any other state because will we see more climate impacts from severe storms, flooding, and sea level rise. By cutting the Superfund program by 30 percent, the people living near a toxic site will continue to suffer. It will mean there is no money to test our drinking water and make sure our health isn’t being threatened. Given what’s happening in Puerto Rico, we will see clearly whether Lopez will step up to address the serious issues about climate impacts in Region 2. With Lopez, we have more questions than answers, Will he stand for political science or real science? We hope he will do his job and protect the environment, not be a puppet for the Trump Administration.”