The Littoral Society and a coalition of environmental organizations are asking Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey to immediately release the New Jersey Protecting Against Climate Threats (NJPACT) rules that would require the use of updated rainfall data for flood hazard regulations, potentially saving lives and untold dollars in property damage from future storms. The updates were called for in the administration’s executive and administrative orders in January 2020, but new regulations have yet to be released.
“The best time to act was yesterday, the second-best time is now,” said Lucia Ruggiero, Delaware Bayshore Program Director, American Littoral Society. “We need to take unified action across the state to protect people and property from the threats of climate change; releasing the NJPACT rules is a crucial step.”
In 2020, under Executive Order No. 100, former NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Commissioner Catherine McCabe issued an administrative order requiring NJDEP to begin a regulatory reform effort to help reduce greenhouse gases and other climate pollutant emissions while making our natural and built environments more resilient to the impacts of climate change that we cannot avoid.
These reforms were said to represent a PACT with the residents of the state to help stave off the worst impacts of climate change and adapt to those already occurring, while also representing a PACT across generations – with our children and grandchildren – to create a more sustainable and resilient world in which they may thrive.
The two overarching PACT initiatives include:
NJPACT rules would prevent the approval of new projects in areas that we know are unsafe. We must prevent the tragedies seen with Hurricane Ida, where New Jerseyans in affordable housing lost their lives due to flooding. The Governor and NJDEP have the authority to prevent future losses with the immediate release of the NJPACT rules.
Leaders of other state environmental organizations agree that the state must act quickly on these new regulations.
“President Biden took a critical step when he acknowledged that climate change is an emergency – but we’ve known climate change, rising sea levels, and flooding are an emergency in New Jersey for a long time,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “We are calling on Governor Murphy and the New Jersey DEP to immediately release the NJPACT rules. Storm season is fast approaching, and we cannot continue to repeat preventable, tragic loss of life year after year. We must protect lives, health, and property, including for the most vulnerable New Jerseyans.”
“President Biden’s pronouncement that climate change is an emergency aligns with Governor Murphy’s previous promises to pass emergency climate regulations,” said Jennifer Coffey, Executive Director, ANJEC. “We call on the Governor to stop delaying and adopt the Flood Hazard rules immediately, prioritizing the life, health, and safety of New Jersey residents over profit-driven development interests.”
“Like an ice cream cone in a heatwave, Governor Murphy’s pledge to advance strong new rules to protect New Jersey from climate change seems to be melting away,” said Jim Walton, Executive Director, The Watershed Institute. “More than two and a half years ago, the Governor promised bold measures to protect communities from storms and flooding. We are still waiting. New Jersey’s residents, businesses and environment can’t afford more delays from the Murphy Administration.”
“DEP’s intended amendments to its flood hazard regulations are based on the latest authoritative state and federal climate and rainfall data and peer reviewed science. The sooner these regulations can be adopted, the more lives will be saved, and fewer properties damaged,” said Elliott Ruga, Policy & Communications Director, New Jersey Highlands Coalition. “Every time we delay programs aimed to responsibly adapt to climate change, we only dig ourselves deeper into a hole and the result will be more costly in lives and in dollars. And whatever the cost is to us, it will be far greater for our children.”