Coastal Climate Change Commission Bill Clears Assembly Committee

Jan 30, 2019

A measure that would create a 15-member Coastal Climate Change Commission in, but not of, the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection was released from the state Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee last Thursday, Jan. 24.

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) introduced the bill – A-2417 – in an effort to “keep our state clean, beautiful, healthy and functional,” she noted.

“We are facing a crisis when it comes to the wellbeing of our planet, and we must do everything in our abilities to study and combat the effects of climate change so future generations can too proudly call New Jersey home. Everywhere on our coast, from the Jersey Shore to Port Elizabeth, should be safeguarded from the effects of climate change.”

The commission would be directed to study climate change issues and the challenges they present to municipalities in the state, develop recommendations for statewide policies and ways to assist municipalities to address these issues and challenges, and report these recommendations to the governor and to the Legislature no later than 18 months after the commission’s first meeting.

Jeff Tittel, director of the N.J. Sierra Club, stated, “The Coastal Climate Change Commission must look at coordinating and planning along the coast. … We are in a climate crisis. Areas in New Jersey are going underwater, sea level is rising and storms are happening in greater frequency. The Christie Administration rolled back 20 years of work on protecting people from flooding. The DEP’s changes to the CAFRA and Coastal Zone Management rules under Christie add(ed) more loopholes and waivers and weakening coastal protections.

“In order to combat climate change impacts, we need to reverse weakened protections and implement strong policies. We cannot reduce climate impacts town-by-town or in a piecemeal way anymore. We need to look at planning and implementing more holistically.”

He added, “We need to give DEP teeth and have the planning commission to come up with a plan to regulate our land use. Otherwise whatever plan they come up with is a plan that would help elevate your furniture if it floods.”  —J.K.-H.

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