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President’s EO Aims to Rebuild Better After Sandy

Date : Fri, 14 Dec 2012 13:04:29 -0500

For Immediate Release
December 10, 2012 Contact:Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

President’s EO Aims to Rebuild Better After Sandy Friday President Obama signed an Executive Order (EO) to help us recover and rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.The President is creating a transparent process to bring people together and address climate as part of rebuilding while Governor Christie is moving in the opposite direction.

"The President is trying to move us in the right direction after Hurricane Sandy with a process that is transparent, will move us towards dealing with climate change and rebuilding in a resilient way.Meanwhile Governor Christie is doing the opposite.He is grabbing political power through a czar, doing it behind closed doors while waiving environmental standards, and allowing rebuilding in the same way and same place that was destroyed," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. President Obama is calling for the creation of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and Advisory Group to bring people together in an open and transparent process to get the viewpoints of different groups and people impacted by the storm.The advisory group will have a variety of representatives from the state and local level.Instead Governor Christie has hired a czar to oversee rebuilding.DEP is already starting to have their secret stakeholder meetings.Instead of bringing people together they are trying to divide to conquer and bring in special interests to help them weaken environmental protections in the name of Sandy while giving themselves green cover for meeting with certain environmental groups. The President calls for a long term rebuilding plan that includes an assessment of the vulnerabilities of extreme weather and will help New Jersey prepare for the impacts of climate change.The President’s plan addresses ecosystem restoration and rebuilding for resiliency. The Christie administration is doing the opposite.DEP Commissioner Bob Martin signed an Administrative Consent Order waiving compliance with CAFRA, Flood Hazard Area, and wetlands protections for infrastructure rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy.The DEP is using the storm to get rid of environmental protections.This is not about helping local governments and state agencies rebuild quickly.This is the dismantling of environmental protections hiding behind the disaster.This is not going to work because we are placing infrastructure back in vulnerable places.

"While President Obama sees a strong role for government, Governor Christie is trying to roll back environmental protections through his Red Tape Review Group, Executive Orders, and other ways that will not only hurt the environment but will make us more prone to flooding.Almost everyone who has come in for a waiver has done it to build along the water front and in flood prone areas," said Jeff Tittel. Governor Christie’s Red Tape Review Group, streamlining regulations, and DEP transformation have been used as ways to roll back environmental protections.Governor Christie weakened land use tools within the DEP that prevent sprawl in flood prone and wetland areas.His administration has rolled back the stormwater, stream buffer, water quality management, beach access, and flood hazard rules, removing key protections.The Governor has called for no rules stronger than federal minimums.The waiver rule further guts environmental regulations.Instead of fixing CAFRA, which is broken, the administration is weakening the rules further.The administration has rolled dune protections and has allowed beach bars and other developments that impact dunes.Governor Christie vetoed 2 important bills to reduce stormwater in the Barnegat Bay and a bill establishing a Total Maximum Daily Load for the Bay. The Christie administration has not adopted new FEMA mapping that shows how flooding has gotten worse in New Jersey.These new maps would help protect people and property, but Governor Christie does not want to limit development in those areas. By not fixing those maps people do not know they live in flood prone areas and do not get flood insurance, costing the tax payers more money. Governor Christie stopped progress under previous administrations who had come forward with studies on adaptation to climate change and sea level rise including hazard planning.There were important reports and mapping about the Delaware Bay Shore and protecting critical infrastructure in the Meadowlands and Newark airport.Governor Christie eliminated the Office of Climate Change which played a role in the reports and now you cannot even find those reports on the DEP website.

"While the President is addressing sea level rise and storm surges, the Governor has actually stopped all the progress we made under other administrations.They eliminated the Office of Climate Change, downgraded the Division of Science to an Office, and either buried or hid the reports that were done on the impacts of sea level rise to New Jersey," said Jeff Tittel.

Jeff continued, "While the President’s EO is not perfect as it does not address regional planning, green building, or renewable energy, it does set a framework to allow us to make those improvements.Instead Governor Christie is trying to weaken and roll back environmental protections, eliminate oversight, and weaken regulations dealing with flooding and climate change." With so many houses and businesses destroyed we must begin the process to rebuild our coasts. We can either continue with failed policies of the past or we can develop our coast in a way that helps protect people, property, and the environment. We can start building better and smarter along our coast, which will not only help our tourism industry to recover, but can help to ensure that we have a coast for future generations. The lesson from this hurricane is that as we move forward we can change things and help protect people and property from future storms and lessen their impacts. This is best way New Jersey can rebuild and go forward into the 21^st century.

"We hope the President’s EO will force the Christie administration to change.Otherwise we will continue the mistakes of the past leading to more devastation and more problems down the road or do it better and smarter. We can rebuild in ways that will actually protect our coasts for future generations as we grow our economy and keep the tourists coming down the shore. We need to change our policies and practices when we rebuild," said Jeff Tittel.

Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2012-12-14 10:04:29

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