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NJ Transit’s “Storm Plan” Was No Plan At All

NJ Only State in Northeast without a Climate Change Adaptation Plan

NJ State Police Ill-Suited for Climate Change Risks & Adaptation Plans

Technical information on the four (4) most recent disasters and climate change issues are still being reviewed and are not included in this April 2012 NJ Hazard Plan update.  ~~~ NJ Hazard Mitigation Plan (April 2012)

[Important Update below]

The Bergen Record has an important story today that alleged that NJ Transit did not follow its own “storm plan” – but unfortunately, the lead is buried in the 3rd paragraph:

NJ Transit did not follow its own storm plan

Newly released internal documents show NJ Transit had a plan in place for moving railcars and locomotives to higher ground as Superstorm Sandy approached, raising further questions about why the agency left hundreds of pieces of equipment in low-lying locations in the storm’s path, resulting in millions of dollars in damage. […]

The NJ Transit document stands in stark contrast to the more detailed hurricane plan prepared by New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, which, taking into account concerns about global warming, enabled the transit system to move the vast majority of its trains to higher ground, saving all but 11 of its rail­cars from flood damage.


So why doesn’t NJ Transit’s plan take into account global warming?

Do other important state plans consider the risks and impacts of global warming?

Here’s the real story.

NJ Transit’s repeated attempts to redact public documents to cover up and block media access to prevent the disclosure of embarrassing information is an outrageous violation of the NJ Open Public Records Act and a gross abuse that someone should be held accountable and fired for.

NJ Transit redacted the entire content of their storm plan for 2 reasons:

1) to cover up their mismanagement (i.e. they didn’t follow their own plan, which included alternate safe storage sites that were available); and

2) to avoid the embarrassing disclosure that he substance of the “plan” is a joke and it does not include consideration of climate change.

NJ Transit’s so called “3 page plan” was not a plan at all.

But, NJ Transit is not alone among State and regional infrastructure agencies for lacking plans.

NJ DEP lacked a water supply plan and local sewer authorities lacked emergency plans and back up power – both are addressed under NJ DEP permit rules under the Clean Water Act.

But the larger issue – and framework within which all these various plans exist – is climate change adaptation planning to consider extreme weather events.

Many states have climate adaptation plans – but not NJ.

NJ addresses all theses unique climate related risks under the State Hazard Mitigation Plan.

That plan is developed by the State Office of Emergency Management security and safety experts, housed within a police institutional setting. They  lack adequate knowledge, training, and experience on the science and other aspects of climate change related “hazards”.

So LOOK again at this caveat on the banner page of that Hazard Mitigation Plan:

“Technical information on the four (4) most recent disasters and climate change issues are still being reviewed and are not included in this April 2012 NJ Hazard Plan update.” (see plan).

Climate change NOT INCLUDED in NJ’s Hazard Mitigation Plan Updated AFTER Irene and just 5 months before Sandy hit.

According to Georgetown University Climate Center, NJ is the only northeastern state without a climate change adaptation plan – a serious deficiency noted in a recent federal Report.

NJ lacks a plan because Governor Christie thinks climate change is an “esoteric” issue that he has not time for and no one “gives a damn about”. (John Reitmeyer story quotes from the Record).

NJ also fails to have a climate plan because the State historically views hazard planning as primarily a local responsibility.

Governor Christie made this historic state abdication policy much worse by issuing Executive Order #4, which restricts so called “unfunded state mandates” to local government.

Christie has shifted additional state responsibilities to local governments and outsourced planning to private groups, as he dismantles State regulations, slashes the resources of agencies, and guts relevant planning programs at DEP.

Again, the accountability rests with the Governor.

That is the story – period.

Who will write it and when will it be written?

Readers want to know – and journalism awards are waiting!

[Update: HUD just released the Sandy Rebuild Taskforce Report mandated by President Obama’s Executive Order (see this for full Report].

I am reviewing the recommendations now, but, while we’re on the topic of state and local government capacity to do adaptation planning, I’ll briefly note this, which flies in the face of Gov. Chrisite’s abdication of State responsibility:

The scope and scale of Hurricane Sandy challenged the uneven capacities of State and local governments, which also faced differences in needs and readiness for disaster recovery. Many of the municipalities that experienced severe river flooding and the coastal towns along the New Jersey Shore and on Long Island are without full time planners, city managers, grants managers, engineers, and architects, and thus do not have the in-house capabilities to lead comprehensive, long-term recovery planning efforts on their own.  (@ p. 125)


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  1. October 14th, 2014 at 23:50 | #1
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