The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association presented U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman with its highest award for environmental leadership at the organization’s April 24 Annual Meeting.
As a long-time champion for New Jersey’s water, air and land, Watson Coleman was given the Watershed’s Edmund W. Stiles Award for Environmental Stewardship, named for a longtime trustee, advisory board member and former ecology professor at Rutgers University.
Watson Coleman, who is in her second term for New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District, has been a passionate advocate and exemplary steward of the environment, said Jim Waltman, Executive Director of the Watershed, to the gathering of about 100 people.
“Her community involvement has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on protecting water quality in central New Jersey,” Waltman said. “We are grateful for her efforts and unwavering dedication to the environment and people of our region.”
Watson Coleman received a 100% score from the League of Conservation Voters for her service during the 2015-2016 Congressional term. During her eight consecutive terms to the New Jersey General Assembly, she was endorsed regularly by the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.
“As we cut down trees, dig up earth and move aside our nation’s ecosystems to build necessary infrastructure – we cannot do so at the expense of cultivating and preserving this planet for generations to come. Environmental stewardship and economic expansion can be shared priorities,” Watson Coleman said. “I am honored to receive this award named after the late Ted Stiles – a tenacious preservationist whose work, to this day, continues to protect public health, our environment and New Jerseyans quality of life.”
Watson Coleman shattered racial and gender barriers to become the first African American woman to serve as Majority Leader of the New Jersey General Assembly. Her election to the House of Representatives made her the first African American woman to represent New Jersey in Congress.
In the state legislature, she sponsored legislation that created New Jersey’s first energy efficiency standards, was a co-sponsor of the Global Warming Response Act and championed many other environmental initiatives.
As a congresswoman, Bonnie Watson Coleman has been a vocal and active opponent of the proposed PennEast Pipeline, authoring several letters to FERC opposing the project and speaking out at rallies and press conferences on the issue. She further worked with the Watershed in drafting the SAFER Pipeline Act, a bill that seeks to revise the Natural Gas Act to better review the need and environmental impacts of pipelines.
She has also been an outspoken opponent of efforts during the current session of congress to repeal environment regulations, including a rule that protects streams from coal mining waste.