Nearly 51 years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson spoke in downtown Buffalo about the importance of clean water and the need to save Lake Erie from pollution. Now local advocates are pushing to "Save the EPA."
Brian Smith with the Citizens Campaign for the Environment says, since it was founded in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency has played an indispensable role in making air safe to breath, water safe to drink and communities safe to live.
"But unfortunately a false narrative that labels the EPA as merely a job killing bureaucracy has been perpetuated by our own president and many members of Congress," Smith said.
He was among several "Save the EPA" advocates in the Tewksbury Lodge, at Buffalo Riverfest Park, Tuesday. Richard Lipsitz with the WNY Labor Federation says, the city's revitalized waterfront is not only beautiful - it's creating jobs.
"And that's what we care about. We want a clean environment where good jobs exist. Where people can have recreation and fun in a beautiful spot. And that's been created here. And it's been created, at least partially, based on regulation of pollution," Lipsitz said.
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper's, Jill Jedlicka says, she's concerned about having to justify the value of clean water. But Jedlicka says, the Trump Administration could undermine the $100 million investment in cleaning up the Buffalo River.
"If this administration is successful in the decimation of the EPA, as well as rolling back the Clean Water Rule, it could remove protections for upto 60-percent of our remaining waterways in the Buffalo Niagara River watershed," Jedlicka said.
Jackie James Creedon with Citizen Science Community Resources says, the EPA also helped clean up the community by providing funding for air monitoring.
"That data proved that without a doubt that the benzene, and benzene is a known carcinogen, in Tonawanda, was coming from Tonawanda Coke," James Creedon said.
Congressman Brian Higgins says, as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee he will be pushing his colleagues to fully restore EPA funding. Higgins says no one from either party wants to go back to 1970.