Home > Uncategorized > NJ Gov. Murphy’s “Climate Resilience” Initiative Falls Short – Lacks Policy, Planning, Regulatory Teeth, Funding, and Staffing

NJ Gov. Murphy’s “Climate Resilience” Initiative Falls Short – Lacks Policy, Planning, Regulatory Teeth, Funding, and Staffing

Don’t Be Fooled – NJ Has No “Managed Retreat” Program

Before We Can Talk About Equity, We Must Have A Conceptual Proposal

Attempt to shift the focus to “equity” glosses over major flaws in Gov. Murphy’s Climate Resilience initiative

Source: NJ DEP: "Section 309 Coastal Assessment and Strategy: 2016 - 2020"

Source: NJ DEP: “Section 309 Coastal Assessment and Strategy: 2016 – 2020″

Today, I started to write Part II of my assessment of Gov. Murphy’s recently announced “Climate Resilience” initiative.

In Part I, I outlined what the initiative lacked and a long list of missed opportunities, i.e. what the Gov. could have done but didn’t.

But before I could get to writing Part II, I was diverted by today’s NJ Spotlight Op-Ed on the need for “equity” in what the author imagines is NJ’s “managed retreat” program. Say what?

First of all, I find the timing of the Op-Ed – which focuses on “retreat” – more than curious. That came out of nowhere. There has been a virtual news blackout on the entire concept of “retreat” (strategic or managed). But the Op-Ed appears to respond to criticism we wrote just 8 days ago. I concluded Part I with this:

But, most importantly, the Gov. could have established a policy of “Strategic Retreat” – which DEP’s Coastal Zone Strategy has recommended for 20 years – but he didn’t.

Instead, Murphy’s EO89 is all process and no policy or legal substance and no resources (financial or human).

I also must note that the Op-Ed author did not use the more meaningful policy of “justice”. While “equity” is an important consideration in resilience policy and planning, it often conflicts with “justice”.

But, more importantly, the Op-Ed is factually in error regarding it’s major premise and therefore highly misleading.

The author – a fabulist who confuses a pot of money with an actual program – claims that NJ has a “managed retreat” program, and has had one since 1995:

New Jersey’s managed retreat program, Blue Acres, offers a glimpse of that “who.” The voluntary program began in 1995, under Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, as a taxpayer-approved and -funded initiative to acquire lands in the state’s coastal areas, where the risk of storm damage and flooding is high.

That claim is factually false.

NJ does not have a “managed retreat” program.

NJ’s Blue Ares program is not a “managed retreat” program.

But, you don’t have to take my word for it.

NJ DEP explicitly states the NJ does not have a “managed retreat” program in the federally mandated “Section 309 Coastal Assessment Strategy – 2016-2020″ . 

The NJ DEP recently informed the federal government that NJ does not have a “managed retreat plan” at any level of government: local, county, or state.

See the Table on Page IV-92: – see the N for “NO” in the row for “managed retreat plans”:

Source: NJ DEP "Section 309 Coastal Assessment and Strategy: 2016-20220"

Source: NJ DEP “Section 309 Coastal Assessment and Strategy: 2016-20220″

NJ also lacks any “Special Area Management Plan” to address climate risks and vulnerabilities.

With respect to Hazard Mitigation Plans, the N in the middle column means that the DEP provides no assistance to local governments (scroll up to page IV-95 to see the 3 column headers in this Y & N table).

The Blue Acres voluntary acquisition from willing sellers’ property is not a policy or a program or a plan.

That approach results in scattershot Blue Acres acquisitions that lack any underlying policy or planning rationale. All holes, no doughnut.

The Op-Ed diverts attention from important flaws and critical data that is essential to a real “managed retreat” program. For example, as I wrote:

The Gov. could have announced a “one and done” policy and that he was seeking legislation to repeal the “right to rebuild” provisions under NJ coastal CAFRA and Flood Hazard Acts,which lead to filing multiple damage claims on the same property and rebuilding in high hazard areas, an abuse that NJ leads the nation on.such as DEP’s Section 309 Report on this issue: (see p. IV-28)

Repetitive Loss

According to the National Flood Insurance Program’s Claim Information by State report (http://bsa.nfipstat.fema.gov/reports/1040.htm) of November 30, 2014, New Jersey recently passed Texas as the second highest ranked state in FEMA total loss payments with $5,622,667,976.21 in losses. New Jersey is the fourth highest ranked state in the total number of losses at over 188,000.While these losses are not limited to New Jersey’s coastal zone, the statistics are indicative of the increasing risks to natural hazards.

Furthermore, the Christie DEP eliminated a discussion of the concept of “Strategic retreat”, including findings and recommendations, from the DEP’s Section 309 Coastal Assessment & Strategy Report, where it had been included for over a decade.

I’ve been writing about those failure for years now, e.g. see:

The author of the NJ Spotlight Op-Ed is clueless as to what is really going on in NJ state government.

The Op-Ed author is worse than clueless.

He misleads NJ residents.

And by trying to shift the focus to “equity”, he glosses over and diverts attention from major flaws in current NJ programs and weaknesses in Gov. Murphy’s Climate Resilience initiative.

Professor Nancy Fraser explains the implications of such a diversionary approach, which some disparage as “identity politics”, in her superb essay: The End of Progressive Neoliberalism:

Progressive neoliberalism developed in the United States over the last three decades and was ratified with Bill Clinton’s election in 1992. Clinton was the principal engineer and standard-bearer of the “New Democrats,” the U.S. equivalent of Tony Blair’s “New Labor.” In place of the New Deal coalition of unionized manufacturing workers, African Americans, and the urban middle classes, he forged a new alliance of entrepreneurs, suburbanites, new social movements, and youth, all proclaiming their modern, progressive bona fides by embracing diversity, multiculturalism, and women’s rights. Even as it endorsed such progressive notions, the Clinton administration courted Wall Street. Turning the economy over to Goldman Sachs, it deregulated the banking system and negotiated the free-trade agreements that accelerated deindustrialization. What fell by the wayside was the Rust Belt—once the stronghold of New Deal social democracy, and now the region that delivered the electoral college to Donald Trump. That region, along with newer industrial centers in the South, took a major hit as runaway financialization unfolded over the course of the last two decades. Continued by his successors, including Barack Obama, Clinton’s policies degraded the living conditions of all working people, but especially those employed in industrial production. In short, Clintonism bears a heavy share of responsibility for the weakening of unions, the decline of real wages, the increasing precarity of work, and the rise of the two–earner family in place of the defunct family wage. (read the whole essay!)

Under Fraser’s framework, the Op-Ed author and Governor Murphy are “progressive Neoliberals”.

And, once again, shame on NJ Spotlight for such shoddy journalism and lack of basic fact checking. They do a deep disservice to their readers by misinforming them on crucial issues.

Finally, the Op-Ed author’s call for “equity” is valid. But, the concept of “equity” is NOT the same as “justice”.

Equity is a weaker policy – it means treating people equally. Equal treatment is not always just treatment.

Justice requires that people be treated according to circumstance – which are often unequal – and be provided fairness and substantive justice in the outcome, not just the process or access to resources. Very Big difference.

Before people write Op-Ed about public policy, they need to understand the fundamentals and facts.

Sorry for the diversion. We’ll get to part II soon.

[Post Note: I sent an email to the author of the Op-Ed to advise him of a serious fact error, with links to the DEP documents and this explanatory post.

You would think the an author would care about his credibility or have an urge to engage dialogue with critics. Nope. The author did not have the dignity to reply.

And that says it all – these assholes write about policy and regulatory issues they don’t have a clue about – while self interestedly promoting a book no less – and simply avoid dialogue. I have zero respect to this crap. NONE. ~~~ end note] 

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