Trenton, NJ – Leaders from local, regional, state, and national groups in New Jersey joined together today to release guiding principles in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and discuss a letter sent to Congress on Sandy-related disaster funds. [See the Principles Document and Delegation Letter HERE]
“There will be many decisions to be made as we move forward from Sandy,” said the American Littoral Society’s Tim Dillingham. “These principles if followed by state, local and private decision makers will result in a restored coastal environment and more resilient communities.”
“In the aftermath of the storm we must all pull together to help New Jersey rebuild and to protect us from future climate disruptions. We can either repeat the mistakes of the past or together move the state forward towards a smarter and better future. We can protect the environment and grow our economy through better planning, clean energy, and enhanced environmental protections,” stated Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
“The storm highlighted the vulnerability of infrastructure along our urban waterways. Billions of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage were released because of failures at our wastewater treatment plants. As we repair these facilities we not only need to ensure they are capable of withstanding future extreme weather events, but are also making the investments needed to improve long-term water quality," said Debbie Mans, Executive Director, NY/NJ Baykeeper.
“New Jersey: Better, Smarter; Guiding Principles to Recover, Rebuild, and Protect from Extreme Weather” (attached) is intended to guide state-wide response to this Super-Storm, the most recent storm to expose weaknesses, mistakes and vulnerabilities in planning, regulation, and financial policies, that will define our economic and environmental future for generations.
“Super-storm Sandy not only devastated coastal communities, it was a public health and environmental disaster. Clean ocean waters, back-bays, and beaches draw people to the shore and are the anchor of our communities,” said Cindy Zipf of Clean Ocean Action. “We must work to ensure that our region is resilient, clean and healthy for decades to come. Restoration of the coastal ecosystem and our coastal culture are possible if we follow these principles and engage the local community to build better, smarter, greener and for the future.”
“Those that don’t learn from the past are damned to repeat it. We need to do that here, learn from Sandy, improve on the previous flawed standards and lax building restrictions and more, to better protect people, property, and the environment from extreme weather and climate disruption. Given the human suffering, destruction of natural and economic resources, and cost to taxpayers from Sandy, we can’t afford not to,” continued David Pringle, NJ Environmental Federation.
“Sea level rise is accelerating; at least 41⁄2 feet higher by 2100. A warmer ocean is increasing the frequency of powerful storms. We must embrace these facts to sustain the built and natural resources of our coastline and floodplains. A regional, science-based, strategic retreat in the highest risk areas, with development of new parks and wetlands, must be coupled with defense of crucial re-built environments. Our responses to Sandy and Irene must be compatible with the long-term view of the ocean and rivers of the 22nd century,” added Dr. Emile DeVito, Manager of Science and Stewardship, NJ Conservation Foundation.
Even before Sandy but with increasing urgency since, the groups have been in contact with all levels of government and other leaders. In a letter sent last week to New Jersey’s Congressional delegation (attached), the groups urged Congress to “protect public health and welfare” and “drive the responsible recovery” by conditioning “federal funding for New York and New Jersey reconstruction” to “reduce future risk from storm damage, fight climate change,” ... “and foster adaptation to a ‘new normal’,” otherwise “we will be ensuring that our communities will be endangered – needlessly – in the next storm or the next flood.”
“We don’t have a crystal ball, our environment is a dynamic and sometimes volatile system. What we can predict is that we will continue to see more frequent and more damaging storms and sea level rise. We must build in the flexibility and resiliency to absorb these storms,” said Kelly Mooij of New Jersey Audubon. “If we make the right decisions now, investing in resiliency during the process of rebuilding, we will protect our current and future citizens of the State.”
“The environmental community has risen to the occasion by assembling a robust set of common principles to ensure our recovery does not leave us as vulnerable as we are today, but instead acknowledges the realities of sea level rise and climate change. We must rebuild in ways that protect lives, property and our environment,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “We stand united and ready to work with decision makers to safeguard all New Jerseyans from the next Super Storm.”
“If we don’t rebuild our Shore sustainably, then the region will continue to be vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather events brought on by climate change,” said Doug O’Malley, Interim Director with Environment New Jersey. “We need to do everything in our power to reduce the global warming pollution that is expected to bring more extreme weather like Superstorm Sandy to New Jersey, the nation and the planet. A stronger Shore is ultimately a more sustainable Shore.”
“Sandy, is providing NJ a wakeup call. A call we should heed to insure that our local and state officials are enforcing the laws design to protect us from harm. We should insure that we protect and rehabilitate necessary environmental functions to better address and mitigate against future harm,” concluded Mike Pisauro of the NJ Environmental Lobby.
- Alliance for a Living Ocean
- American Littoral Society
- Association of NJ Environmental Commissions
- Clean Ocean Action
- Environment New Jersey
- Hackensack Riverkeeper
- New Jersey Audubon
- New Jersey Conservation Foundation
- New Jersey Environmental Federation
- New Jersey Environmental Lobby
- New Jersey League of Conservation Voters
- New Jersey Sierra Club
- NY/NJ Baykeeper
- Pinelands Preservation Alliance
- Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association
- Surfers' Environmental Alliance