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One Year After Sandy Changes Still Needed
Date : Mon, 21 Oct 2013 16:34:56 -0400
For Immediate Release
October 21, 2013
Contact: Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100
One Year After Sandy Changes Still Needed
The Senate and Assembly Environment Committees will hold a joint hearing
today to hear testimony on the status of rebuilding efforts after
Hurricane Sandy.One year after the storm New Jersey has not taken action
to address climate change, adapt to future sea level rise, or implement
policies to better protect families and infrastructure from future
storms.We need the Legislature to take action now to make New Jersey
more resilient to the future challenges that will result from climate
"One year after Sandy we have not made the kind of changes that are
needed.We have left the state more vulnerable to the next storm.Instead
of smarter and better, it has been denial and rationalize of the status
quo," said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club."We have not been
doing adaptation planning for sea level rise, incorporating energy
efficiency and green building codes, funding for buyouts, or restoring
natural systems.The efforts to rebuild the coast have become broken
promises, delays, and inaction."
More Action To Address Climate Change
There is no planning involved for infrastructure or rebuilding.We need
to set up programs and mapping to deal with sea level rise, climate
change, and adaptation and mitigation for those impacts.We should be
looking at elevating, hardening or moving vital infrastructure to help
protect it and tie it to fixing other problems like combined sewer
overflows and renewable energy and green infrastructure.We need
legislation that would require state agencies to mandate mitigation and
adaption planning for sea level rise.
New Jersey needs to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
to reduce carbon pollution in our state and the region.The Governor
pulled us out of the compact and vetoed legislation passed by both
houses to restore our participation.RGGI is an agreement signed by the
ten northeast states to cut carbon emissions from electrical generation
power plants.A report by the National Association of Regulatory Utility
Commissioners found that New Jersey's participation in RGGI created $151
million in economic value and 1,772 jobs in our state.While
participating in RGGI, NJ reduced its greenhouse gas usage by 10%.The
Legislature should constitutionally dedicate New Jersey's participation
in RGGI or other such climate compacts.
"Sandy was a wake call that shows climate change is real.The state of
New Jersey has failed to lead when it comes to the climate change.The
Governor has called the problem 'esoteric' and refused to address
it.Unless we take action to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt and
mitigate to climate change, we will waste money rebuilding while
continuing to put people and property in harm's way," said Jeff Tittel.
Policies to Make Our Coast More Resilient Being Ignored
New Jersey has not required the latest building codes in the wake of
Sandy.To date the Governor's administration has refused to adopt the
latest codes and a letter from the Office of Recovery and Rebuilding
addressing the subject simply notes that "New Jersey adopted the 2009
version of the model building code."The codes New Jersey is using are
about 15% less efficient than current codes and new standards are being
drafted this fall.We need legislation requiring the DCA to minimally
require the adoption of the 2012 International IECC codes and the ICC
Green Building Standards.And legislation requiring DCA to require all
buildings meet Energy Star tier three New Jersey Climate Choice Standards.
More effort needs to be made to coordinate efforts between
municipalities and government agencies on rebuilding shared
infrastructure.As we rebuild, it is an opportune time for municipalities
to look at consolidating services and key infrastructure and to do
regional planning around key infrastructure such as sewer lines.
There is no planning for pulling back from environmentally sensitive
areas.More planning for restoring natural systems and adding dunes along
our coast should be undertaken. There has been no comprehensive plan for
buyouts in our coastal areas and no programs for funding for buyouts.The
Governor has yet to outline plans for funding open space purchases.The
Army Corps of engineers are not requiring dunes north of Manasquan.Dunes
do not prevent flooding, especially on the Bay side and there is no plan
in place to protect those areas.
"The most important question is: Are we stronger than the next
storm?Almost a year after Sandy, New Jersey has not learned the mistakes
of the past or changed the status quo.We seem to be doing some of the
same mistakes over again when it comes to rebuilding our coast and
protecting our state from floods and storms," said Jeff Tittel.
The FEMA maps being used for rebuilding do not contain the latest flood
information from Hurricane Sandy and do not include sea level rise or
storm surges. Rushing to rebuild before the science and planning is in
place puts people, infrastructure, and investments at risk.New Jersey's
Flood Hazard Area rules allow for building one foot above the 100 year
flood line where FEMA recommends 2 feet above free board.We recommend
implementing the FEMA standard since it is more protective and will help
address potential mistakes in mapping. FEMA fell to political pressure
and removed areas damaged by Sandy from v zones.
Earlier this year DEP adopted changes to the coastal regulations but the
rule proposal did not fix the CAFRA mapping or reflect the
environmentally sensitive features on the ground or new flood maps.This
will still allow for sewers and overdevelopment in environmentally
sensitive and high hazard areas.
The Legislature has ignored two critical bills for better protecting our
coast. A3921 (Barnes) would close major loopholes in the Coastal Area
Facility Review Act (CAFRA) by redefining developments that need permits
to stop inappropriate coastal development.A Coastal Commission as
proposed in A3920 (Barnes) would be the best way to implement many of
the policies needed to rebuild the coast better and stronger.This bill
is crucial to make the rebuilding process more transparent and open to
the public and incorporate more regional planning.
Governor Christie's Policies Make NJ More Vulnerable
Instead of implementing adaptation and mitigation planning and reducing
carbon pollution, the Governor is rolling back policies that reduce
climate change pollution and promote clean energy alternatives.Governor
Christie has diverted almost $900 million from different clean energy
funding and his revised Energy Master Plan reduces our renewable energy
goals from 30% to 22.5% in favor of more fossil fuels, contributing to
climate change pollution.
Since the Governor has pulled out of RGGI there have been
consequences.There has been a drop in prices in the Solar Renewable
Energy Credit (SREC) market, almost causing a crash.We went from first
in the nation in installed solar to third and are heading to
fourth.Legislation was needed to save the solar market.
We were eighth in the nation in energy efficiency and are now sixteenth.
Governor Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act
The Legislature can take action against the rollbacks we have seen
under the Governor.We need the Clean Energy Funds to be constitutionally
dedicated to prevent further raids.We need legislation establishing a
funding mechanism for offshore wind projects. The Legislature must
require state agencies to actually implement the Global Warming Response
Act.Action must be taken to expand the Renewable Portfolio Standard for
"There is no accountability and things are being done behind closed
door.Even nostalgia has given way to frustration and futility.But there
are still time to make changes and we need the Legislature to act now
and move the state forward.We said early on that it would take years to
rebuild and there is still time to make those fixes and changes," said
-- Kate Millsaps Conservation Program Coordinator NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club 609-656-7612 _________________________________________________________ NJ-Sierra-Chapter-Ex-Committee List Info & Archives: http://lists.sierraclub.org/archives/NJ-EXCOM.html - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -Received on 2013-10-21 13:34:56
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