New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg Dead at Age 89

by Kris Venezia, Associated Press
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Senator Lautenberg

wellstone.action, flickr 

Environmental Groups Call Senator Lautenberg Environmental Hero

New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg has died at age 89 of a viral pneumonia.

The New Jersey native grew up in Patterson and used the G-I bill to attend Columbia University.

The Democrat wrote the laws for banning smoking on domestic airline flights and setting the national minimum drinking age of 21.

Republican Governor Chris Christie says while the two often disagreed, he had a lot of respect for the Senator.

"We had some pretty good fights between us over time, battles on philosophy and the role of government," said Christie. "But never was Senator Lautenberg to be underestimated."

New Jersey Environmental groups say Senator Lautenberg was an environmental hero.

He called for the reduction of harmful chemicals and co-sponsored funding for preservation projects in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania.

Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, says Lautenberg did a lot to clean up New Jersey.

"Every time [New Jersey residents] see an open space or natural wildlife refuge [that's] part of his legacy, when they see a Superfund site or toxic site getting cleaned up that's part of his legacy," said Tittel. "The fact that he made our air a little cleaner and our water a little purer is part of his legacy, and... I think what we'll remember him for."

Republican Governor Chris Christie will appoint a successor to Lautenberg. 

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