Fund water-quality tests at N.J. shore, lawmakers urge Congress

Two of New Jersey’s federal lawmakers are urging Congress to approve funding for water-quality programs along the shore.

President Barack Obama’s budget proposal does not include any money for a 12-year-old program that gives grants to states to test water quality.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg wants $10 million to be authorized so beach-goers can know if the ocean water is safe.

“A day at the beach should never turn in to a visit to the doctor afterward,” he said. “We’ve got to do what we can to protect every mile of our beautiful coastline, to protect it from waste and pollution.”

Congressman Frank Pallone joined Lautenberg on the Asbury Park boardwalk Thursday to push for faster testing.

Pallone said there is new technology that makes it possible to get results in six hours instead of the current 24-hour wait to determine if beaches should be closed to swimmers.

The two Democrats are urging that federal grants be approved for towns to detect sources of pollution so they can be cleaned up.

With the surf crashing in the background, Lautenberg and Pallone also hammered away at Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney’s proposal for a new national energy strategy.

The cornerstone of Romney’s plan is opening up more areas for offshore oil drilling, including in the mid-Atlantic, where it is currently banned.

Lautenberg opposes the idea as much too risky to the environment.

“We don’t want our beaches filled with oil. We don’t want our waters filled with oil,” he said. “We don’t want the result that you could easily get from drilling off our coast.’

Romney says ramping up offshore drilling could create 3 million jobs and more than $1 trillion in revenue. He also wants to give states more control over energy production on federal land.

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