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HUD Calls for Smarter, Greener Sandy Rebuild Standards

Date : Mon, 19 Aug 2013 10:42:00 -0400

For Immediate Release

August 19, 2013

Contact: Jeff Tittel, Director, 609-558-9100

HUD Calls for Smarter, Greener Sandy Rebuild Standards

/Agency Plan Includes Updated Building Codes, Energy Efficiency and Green Infrastructure/

Today HUD released their Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force Strategy Document.The Plan outlines resilient goals for rebuilding the New Jersey Shore in an inclusive, transparent and sustainable way.The Plan promotes regional coordination between government agencies and streamlining and harmonizing the different levels of government.Promoting resilience through long term, science based planning using up to date data is a key part of the Strategic Plan.Reducing greenhouse gases and promoting energy efficiency will be through all program areas, including transportation and housing.Most importantly the Plan calls for looking at current and future risks, including sea level rise climate change and adaptation and mitigation planning.The Plan follows President Obama's climate action plan through all disciplines of government.This program has a Sandy focus but will become a national model.This is especially important here in New Jersey where the Governor has been moving us in the wrong direction.Jeff Tittel, Director of the NJ Sierra Club sits on the Task Force that released the Strategy Document.

"We thank HUD for their leadership in moving rebuilding efforts forward in a smarter and better way.This is especially important here in New Jersey where Governor Christie is implementing policies that leave our coast vulnerable to the next storm.Hopefully this will help us make changes to state policy here in New Jersey," said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club."This report lays out an important program to make our state more resilient.It will help protect the environment, grow our economy, and protect the state from climate change."

Jeff continued,"While HUD is announcing these plans on climate Governor Christie is going in the opposite direction.This report calls for a transparent, open process, climate change and sea level rise adaptation, energy efficiency, and green infrastructure.Gov. Christie is doing everything behind closed doors with no mention of climate change, sea level rise, or adaptation.This report shows what we should be doing and are not."

On _energy_ HUD is calling for not just hardening the grid, but making it more resilient including distributive generation, microgrid, combined heat and power, smart grid, renewable energy and energy efficiency.They are also calling for developing a backup system of power for communications and data such as cell towers.Instead the Governor has removed New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which would have lowered greenhouse gas emissions from our state's power plants and also provide funding for clean energy projects. In addition each year the Governor continues to raid the Clean Energy Fund, money which would go towards renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The Governor has waived permits for infrastructure rebuilding instead of requiring elevating, hardening or moving vital infrastructure to help protect it.

_Building Codes_would be updated under the HUD plan to the most up to date international ICC code for energy efficiency and building.They have to be damage resistant and resilient codes and the latest versions.When the new codes come out next year they have to be adopted. The Governor's administration has not required this as part of rebuilding.

The HUD plan would also require Green Infrastructure: the use in rebuilding of natural systems and engineered systems that mimic natural systems.This will include blue and green roofs, restoring marshes and coastal wetlands.The Governor has not proposed a plan to pull back from environmentally sensitive areas and allow for more space to restore natural systems and add dunes along our coast.The only buyouts financed by the administration have been along the Raritan River.Installing that green infrastructure is critical to protecting the state from future storms.

Climate and sea level rise are addressed in the HUD report while Governor Christie has shelved the science in New Jersey.Instead of moving forward with sea level rise and climate change adaptation planning, the Governor cut the DEP Office of Climate Change and has stopped progress under previous administrations to implement hazard planning to address sea level rise. He has not required programs and mapping to deal with sea level rise, climate change, and adaptation and mitigation for those impacts.

"If we do not care about climate change when we rebuild we not only jeopardize future federal funding but will continue to put people in harm's way.The Governor cannot fix the problem when he denies the role of climate change in impacting our state," said Jeff Tittel.

The HUD plan will encourage regional coordination where the Governor has not for infrastructure or rebuilding.The HUD plan will help with the coordinate efforts between municipalities and government agencies on rebuilding shared infrastructure, where there has been no leadership at the state level.

This will also include forwater resources.The HUD plan looks at all areas of water resources: coastal protection , stormwater, drinking water.The program will tie water resources with green infrastructure.It will be a systems approach that is integrated and managed at all levels.All the different types of water resource management need to be coordinated at regional level and there will be a study by the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE )taking in most of the Atlantic sea board.Instead the Christie administration has been trying to rollback DEP rules that protection our water resources.

HUD is also calling forrenewable energy and green infrastructure as more cost effective than traditional.Governor Christie has rolled back our renewable energy targets under the Energy Master Plan, almost crashing the solar market.After almost three years since the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act was passed we still do not have wind turbines off our coast.

Other program areas addressed in the plan include business, insurance, housing, and small business.Under insurance the plan includes hazard and risk mitigation.

The HUD report calls for an inclusive, transparent process.We have not seen that in New Jersey where the Governor appointed a Czar to oversee rebuilding efforts and there have been no public community meetings or hearings at the state level on the strategy for rebuilding our shore.

"We strongly support this program to make our coast more resilient as we rebuild from Hurricane Sandy.Including energy efficiency, distribute generation and renewable energy in rebuilding our grid is critical for a more resilient future.Having the most up to date building codes will further help save people money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.Green infrastructure will not only help alleviate the impacts of future extreme weather events but improve the environment.More important this will help further President Obama's bold Climate Action Plan, help create jobs, grow our economy and protect us from future storms.This proposal is a national model to deal with sea level rise and climate disruption.This is rebuilding smarter and better, while the current New Jersey plan is not stronger than the storm," said Jeff Tittel.

Jeff concluded, "Will Governor Christie follow these plans or will he follow his national political agenda at the expense of New Jersey's environment and economy.He could end up jeopardizing not only rebuilding or coast but future federal funding."

Access the full Strategy Document here: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/sandyrebuilding

Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
NJ-Sierra-Chapter-Ex-Committee List Info & Archives:
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Received on 2013-08-19 07:42:00

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