Home > Uncategorized > A Path Forward on the Shore

A Path Forward on the Shore

An Informed View on Coastal Management from Former DEP Commissioner

The environmental, public interest, and planning communities should get behind and widely promote these recommendations

Mark Mauriello, former DEP Commissioner speaks at NJBIA event (1//9/09)


[Update: 12/9/12 – Read this superb editorial at Asbury Park Press today:  Clarify state role in rebuilding.

They clearly get it and call for either a moratorium on rebuilding or a Coastal Commission as well as strings on FEMA money and adoption of new FEMA maps and elevations:

Why aren’t Christie, Martin or the new czar calling for a regional approach to rebuilding the battered coast? Virtually every knowledgeable observer of the coastal ecosystem has said that decisions about where and whether to rebuild, and how to best protect homeowners, businesses and infrastructure from future storms, recommends that the state or regional bodies oversee the reconstruction. […]

The best course, in our view, would be a temporary moratorium on any new construction without explicit approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection or a new coastal commission.

Bravo! – end update]

I just listened to former DEP Commissioner Mark Mauriello deliver a brilliant presentation on Sandy lessons learned and outline a path forward at Monmouth University ‘s Urban Coast Institute’s conference.

Mauriello called for many of the things we’ve recommended, such as: 1) repealing Executive Order #2, 2) repeal of the CAFRA right to rebuild provision, with certain lands “targeted” for “strategic retreat” from highly vulnerable locations; 3) stronger regulatory standards and closure of loopholes; 4) comprehensive land use planning; 5) strong dune and barrier island protection laws; 6) strict regulatory strings on rebuild money; and 7) a new Coastal Commission.

I agree with virtually everything he said, except he left out a need for a drastic and concrete global warming policy agenda and the need to revoke DEP Commissioner Martin’s Order to deregulate rebuild. I think criticism of DEP for failure to update flood hazard maps was in order, as well as conveying the fact that new FEMA “base flood” and design elevations will not fully incorporate global warming impacts (although those issues were discussed in a chart on the 100 year storm event and probabilities. And Mark did note the cumulative effects of sea level rise, stronger storms and storm surge; and coastal erosion and subsidence. Could you even imagine the current DEP Commissioner delivering such remarks? Sorry, but I could not resist that well deserved but cheap shot!)

But I disagree wih the remark that what I have advocated, i.e. a “strategic restreat” from highly vulnerable locations – is an extreme view that polarizes the discussion.

[and I loved Mark’s admission that – due to politics he may have been part of the problem while at DEP!]

The environmental, public interest, and planning communities should get behind and widely promote these recommendations.

I took screen shots of the recommendations his powerpoint – apologies for poor resolution – see below.

Hopefully, Monmouth University will post links to the video of the presentation so you can see the full presentation and listen to Mark deliver his wonderful talk.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
  1. Bill Neil
    December 8th, 2012 at 14:28 | #1

    Just catching up with this Bill. Those were good comments from Mark Mauriello. Looks like I’m in the extreme view, too, and polarizing the debate. But there’s some consolation in that Bill. Think of where the New Deal stands in terms of politcal memory with both parties, and let me make it stand as a surrogate for a regulatory state that stood, in the 1930’s and later, in a fairer position towards the “common good” and the “common person” that what that state has evolved to today, federal or “state” state. The Republican Right categorizes FDR and the New Deal as out and out socialism, even though socialists and social democrats of the day – Norman Thomas and John Dewey – for example, felt that FDR let sharecroppers, all those left out of early Social Security and black citizens out of the picture, and he didn’t like John L. Lewis at all – the feeling became mutual – and even Lewis of the mine workers was not a socialist either. And today’s Democrats – Clinton and Obama – run from the New Deal, labor and even the most relevant moderate courses and tools it used – like a CCC corps – like it was the Red Plague.

    But lets follow through on the sense of what Mark said to we “polarizers.” Those who have thrown in the towel on tough regulations, long ago – I’m thinking of the Mike Catania, the young Mike Catania of so many struggles inside DEP and a pioneer lawyer for Pinelands drafting – seemed to me to abandon the regulatory state because it became too painful and too isolating to defend, given all the pressures, explicit and implicit – and I was the recipient of them as well too in more lunch time pleadings that I care to remember – directed at those who would defend the power of a regulatory state who saw nature, and in other matters, consumers themselves as “clients” – shocking as though this now sounds, in addition to those private economic powers who were relentless in mounting this pressure to be their definition of reasonable, smiling and yes, “compromising” in their direction.

    Let me just say this: Mike and those others were not wrong to present us with the costs and the pressures, which were indeed high and seemed increasingly futile, but what exactly lay at the end of the road they were recommending? Because the way I see it Bill, and I invite your readers in to this, this is precisely what let to the great regulatory failure in regards to Wall Street, whether at the SEC, Treasury, Compt. of the Currency, Commodities Future Trading Corporation…and how many other potential “lifeguards” for us…there was a whole sea change, an intellectual revolution under way, building with 30 years flood tide, including virtually a new criminal justice system for Wall Street with no cumulative impact for repeated bad and illegal actions. Regulators were losing even a sense of genuine neutrality, much less the possibility of an adversarial response when required, and the psychology of nice and reasonable was the face-to-face human stance which the private sector demanded…indeed it was presented to me at these lunches with some environmental colleagues who were just holding out the shoehorn for me to fit into the new “boot.” And how much nicer and more pleasant it all sounded.

    But when it came time for genuine independence in all the crucial agencies, there was no one left who could either pyschologically stand that ground and indeed, even the idea of real formal governmental legal standing had been eroded as interference with the private sector “MARKET” which was Wall Street, who knew best, being the closest to the now nearly divine “marketplace.” Ask Brooksley Borne how this worked, or Bill Greider on the slow evolution of two legal systems. As for the red tooth and claw reality of the marketplace, read Michael Lewis and Frank Partnoy and Karen Ho.

    But it all hid behind the friendly, Ivy League educated smoothness of those promoting the deregulatory landscape, and the new psychology that went with it. Tough to square what was being urged upon us – and where it would ultimately lead: financial calamity and the unilateral disarmament of the national environmental community in the face of those who were, behind the scenes, using increasingly military warlike terms and analogies, going so far as to take delight in “ripping the faces off” their own customers and seeing them as having no more human agency than “muppets.”

    This is a role for citizens which I am sure the private sector would heartily prescribe for us – and is there any better warning flag than the “standing” of Ralph Nader in our culture – easy to parody him across the table from those oh so friendly, oh so smooth deregulators…so this is where the “Atlantic republican” tradition has ended up, a tradition stretching back to Aristotle, the Rome of the early republic, Florence and Venice city states…passed on to our own founders after passing throught the English Civil War of 1640-1660…a citizenry disarmed, in the full smiling embrace of private special interests, whose concern for the general welfare and nature can be evidenced by redistribution of wealth, income and yes, even the definition of jobs and employement, to suit their own purposes.

    So let me thank those who so ardently urged me upon this easier and friendly course of civic consciousness, thank you so much for putting us all in this spot. Just a little reminder, Commissioner Mauriello, that I think Bill Wolfe will find some honorable company in the corner you are attempting to paint him in…which was no where to be found when the public good and the now old republic needed it the most…down the streets of gold in the late 1990’s,when this whole world view was peaking right before my eyes in New Jersey. Enough.

  2. December 8th, 2012 at 17:16 | #2

    @Bill Neil

    Amen Bill!

    In a remarkable parallel, I just got off the phone in a conversation about the Obama EO and where NJ ENGO’s should go, and I made amazingly similar points –

    At fundamental level, the failure of the market and the neutering of planning and regulation have to be made a central focus of the “lessons learned” in this debate.

    There are erie parallels to the financial sector – Clinton killed Glass Steagal and the rest is history.

    The NY Times recently cried crocodile tears for the working class in a recent story that concluded only the rich will be able to live by the shore. That was cover for the developers and speculators and real estate interests who want to use the backlash against rising taxes, user fees, and insurance rates to block an expansion of the federal role in terms of flood insurance increases, FEMA flood maps, or state and local land use controls.

    If one cares about making the new face of the shore “resilient” and “sustainable” (the so called principles driving the Obama Executive Order), socially diverse and affordable, and avoid gentrification and – in some NY locales basically ethnic/racial cleansing – then you have to say right up front that the market will not produce those outcomes. Period.

    (BTW, did you hear that the good liberal Mayor of NYC issued eviction orders adn had the Police shut down the Occupy relief effort?


    The only solution is planning and government mandates. Regulatory strings on federal funding. Federal rebuild policy control.

    But that’s dismissed as utopian, ideological thinking and polarizing class warfare!

    And yours and my views are not only just not politically viable – they are entirely outside the perceptive and intellectual faculties of even the ENGO advocates!

  1. December 10th, 2012 at 11:43 | #1
  2. December 11th, 2012 at 13:39 | #2
  3. December 14th, 2012 at 13:56 | #3
You must be logged in to post a comment.