Home > Uncategorized > Criticism Of NJ Beach Replenishment Program Fails To Note That Murphy DEP “Climate Resilience” Strategy Still In Draft Form – DEP Climate Regulations Delayed

Criticism Of NJ Beach Replenishment Program Fails To Note That Murphy DEP “Climate Resilience” Strategy Still In Draft Form – DEP Climate Regulations Delayed

DEP Relies On Market Forces And Individual Decisions – No Need For Immediate Action

DEP downplays the reality of current climate impacts

[Update: 10/19/21 – I just ate across my legislative testimony – from back in 2006:

Senate Environment Committee

Strengthening coastal zone protection laws

August 4, 2006

2. Regulate reconstruction, redevelopment, and new construction in high hazard areas

Current NJ law provides a right to rebuild storm/flood damaged structures and does not adequately limit new development in high hazard areas and delineated flood zones. The rebuild provisions perpetuate unacceptable risks by allowing people and property to remain in harms way. Federal flood insurance program data reveal that NJ is one of the nation’s worst states in terms of multiple filings of claims for the same property. These un-necessary risks not only adversely impact the environment, they impact the insurance rates of all NJ residents, especially those seeking flood insurance. […]

5. Amend MLUL and CAFRA to require global warming adaptation strategies, improve hazard planning, and establish requirements for emergency response/evacuation plans

Recent NJ and national experience has shown that the FEMA model is extremely inadequate and that towns and the state need better tools and more resources to prevent, manage, and respond to storm events. ~~~ end update]

In the final paragraph on an otherwise well written story about environmental and coastal groups valid criticisms of NJ’s beach replenishment program – NJ enviros oppose increased funding for beach replenishment – we get to the buried lead and heart of the matter:

Coalition members say the state itself has already listed ways for New Jersey to gird its treasured shoreline against extreme weather events and rising sea level linked to climate change in a document produced by the Department of Environmental Protection titled Climate Change Resilience Strategy.

That creates the highly misleading impression that DEP is on top of the situation, i.e. they’ve “listed ways” and is taking steps to address the problem.

What the coalition members and media failed to note, however, was that the DEP Climate Change Resilience Strategy is still in draft form.

And the strategy itself is extremely weak in terms of “listing ways” that NJ can “gird its treasured shoreline”.

The key policy issues with respect to “coastal resilience” involve what’s called “managed retreat” – which is a taboo topic as it involves loss of hundreds of billions of dollars in real estate value along the coast and rivers.

It’s a lot easier for coastal environmental groups to call for reallocation of beach replenishment funds than to demand action on DEP regulatory development restrictions and managed retreat from highly vulnerable locations.

It’s DEP that is in retreat – not the developers. DEP still hasn’t even restored the rollbacks of the Christie administration.

The DEP Climate Change Resilience Strategy also is fatally flawed – in several important ways.

Here’s what it says about the taboo topic of “managed retreat” (emphases mine):

Alternately referred to as managed retreat, managed realignment, resilient relocation, or transformational adaptation, whatever the term, the result is the same; whether through individual or market decisions, people, businesses, and coastal functions will eventually move to safer areas. While large-scale managed retreat from New Jersey’s coast is unlikely to be necessary or mandated in the immediate future, planning, policy, and regulatory actions must be taken now to alleviate the potential economic and societal losses that will be caused by significant unplanned migration away from vulnerable areas. Coastal stakeholders may disagree about the implementation of managed retreat as a resilience strategy, but sea-level rise will ultimately make it a necessary consideration.

Did you get that? Let’s repeat:

whatever the term, the result is the same; whether through individual or market decisions, people, businesses, and coastal functions will eventually move to safer areas.

DEP is relying on “individual or market decisions”, despite the fact that they know thatsea-level rise will ultimately make it a necessary consideration.”

That is an extremely irresponsible policy assumption.

Furthermore, DEP is denying the current reality of climate change driven coastal hazards and impacts and delaying regulatory response.

Despite recent Superstorm Sandy and Ida devastation, DEP claims that:

large-scale managed retreat from New Jersey’s coast is unlikely to be necessary or mandated in the immediate future

DEP is literally putting its head in the sand.

Finally – and here’s the heart of the matter – DEP is not only deferring real action, they are even delaying their own meager draft commitments to real action.

The draft Strategy notes:

The [Gov. Murphy] Executive Order mandated that DEP update its FHA Rules, Stormwater Management Rules, and Coastal Rules to reflect the best available science on climate change. DEP intends to release the proposed rules by mid-2021.

Well, it’s now fall 2021 and DEP climate resilience regulations are nowhere to be seen.

The last I heard from DEP Commissioner LaTourette was that DEP might get around to proposing climate PACT regualtions in early 2022.

Note that that’s conveniently after the election.

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