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N.J. Campaign Urges Protection Against Increased Flood Risk

On Friday, the Waterfront Alliance’s Rise to Resilience campaign released a package of policy proposals that officials in New Jersey and New York could pursue to boost the region’s resilience to climate change.

by Michael Sol Warren, NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J. / July 10, 2020
Waves crash on the Brigantine beach from the Absecon Inlet, with Atlantic City in the background, as a weekend winter storm brings high winds and flooding in New Jersey's coastal towns, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. TNS/Lori M. Nichols | For NJ.com

(TNS) — Climate change could leave the Garden State drenched.

Rising seas combined with increasingly intense tropical storms and rain events — all of which is driven by a warming climate — threaten New Jersey and New York with a future of increased flooding.

Now, a coalition of more than one thousand non-profit groups and private organizations is pushing solutions aimed at making the region more resilient to that climbing flood risk.

On Friday, the Waterfront Alliance’s Rise to Resilience campaign released a package of policy proposals that officials in New Jersey and New York could pursue to boost the region’s resilience to climate change. The proposals range from federal actions like reforming the National Flood Insurance Program and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to local steps like amending New Jersey’s municipal land-use laws.

“A resilient future for New York and New Jersey is not only crucial, it is eminently possible — but only if we work together to put resilience and justice at the forefront of our regional planning, to address the threat of sea-level rise and the climate crisis head-on,” Kate Boicourt, the director of resilience for the Waterfront Alliance, said in a statement.

For New Jersey, the Waterfront Alliance is calling on state leaders to:

  • Pass enforceable flood risk disclosure laws.
  • Create a clear governance system for implementing the state’s resilience policy, which is set to be unveiled in September.
  • Amend municipal land-use laws, so that local master plans must account for future flood risks created by climate change.
  • Use COVID-19 recovery funds to invest in green workforce development programs, affordable housing and resilient infrastructure.

The coalition is also urging Garden State leaders to work with other regional authorities to create an interstate climate resilience council.

Finally coalition is asking Congress to re-envision and properly fund FEMA, reform the National Flood Insurance Policy and invest COVID-19 recovery funds into infrastructure projects to boost resiliency in flood-prone areas.

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th Dist., who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is New Jersey’s most powerful congressman, pledged his support to the Waterfront Alliance proposals.

“We must work together to address the scope of the climate crisis with a united effort at the federal, state, and local level,” Pallone said in a statement. “I’m grateful for Governor [Phil] Murphy’s leadership on this issue, and I’m proud to stand with the Rise to Resilience campaign as we work toward a more resilient future.”

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Michael Sol Warren may be reached at mwarren@njadvancemedia.com.

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