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Pinelands Commission Urged To Address Climate Change Impacts on Pinelands Resources

Pinelands Forests Already Adversely Impacted By Climate Change

Climate Models and Impact Assessments Predict Significant Impacts Will Worsen

(Source: NJ Pinelands Commission)

(Source: NJ Pinelands Commission)

The South Jersey Gas pipeline debate is important, but it is consuming far too much focus and resources. It’s surely not time to declare victory and move on, but it is time to focus on critical issues and go on offense, instead of playing all defense.

In that regard, we’ve previously written about current climate change impacts and future threats to Pinelands forest and ecosystems, see:

During the course of – and in the wake of – the debate on the South Jersey Gas Co. pipeline, we repeatedly urged the Commission to address energy and climate change issues via revisions to the Comprehensive Management Plan.

We have yet to receive a response to or seen any indication that those recommendations were seriously considered – by the Commission or our activist and preservation colleagues.

The Commission must address energy policy and the science of climate change in their efforts to preserve the ecosystems and natural resources of the Pinelands under the Comprehensive Management Plan.

Source: NJ Pinelands Commission

Source: NJ Pinelands Commission

Today, we again wrote to urge the Commission to initiate this science, planning and regulatory initiative (sees below letter).

To show the Commission that this is not some abstract notion, we provided a copy of the Adirondack Park Agency’s policy, which I urge readers to take a look at.

Because I’ve previously testified and written to the Commission to provide the various scientific studies, particularly on forest impacts, I’ve left them out of this letter and post.

Dear Chairman Lohbauer and Director Wittenberg:

As I’ve previously testified to the Commission and the P&I Committee, based in part on the work of Commission scientists and other scientific research in the Pinelands, climate change is already impacting regulated Pinelands resources.

Climate change models and impact assessments predict these impacts will increase over time at an accelerating an unknown rate and degree.

While I believe that the Pinelands Protection Act (Act) provides ample legal authority to address climate and energy issues, as does at least one Commissioner, Counselor Roth has speculated and advised that the Commission lacks jurisdiction to consider climate impacts or regulate climate change or energy sources/projects.

As I’ve testified to the Commission, the Act could be implemented to advance the policies and emission reduction goals of the NJ Global Warming Response Act.

While I do not think it is a prerequisite to proceed with such an initiative, I’ve insisted that Ms. Roth’s speculative guidance is in error and urged the Commission to obtain a formal Attorney General’s opinion on the various relevant legal issues, include jurisdiction, authority, scope, etc.

With this recent history in mind, I again urge the Commission to address the issues of climate change and energy policy in the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

As ane example of what that might look like and that the Commission could expand upon and adapt to the Pinelands, please see a sister water and forest resource based regional land use planning agency’s energy policy, The Adirondack Park Agency (2008):

Policy on Energy Supply, Conservation and Efficiency in the Adirondack Park

http://apa.ny.gov/Documents/Policies/Agency7_Energy_Policy.pdf

When and how could this set of issues get on the Commission’s agenda?

I urge your favorable and timely consideration,

Respectfully,

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