No to Pipelines, Yes to Offshore Windmills: How NJ Could Fend Off Climate Disaster
Summers as hot as Alabama, sections of the shoreline lost to rising sea levels, saltwater intruding the Delaware river and bay – all potentially on the horizon due to climate change, says The Fund for New Jersey in a report calling on the next governor to prioritize environmental protection.
Ed Lloyd, a trustee for the philanthropic group and director of Columbia Law School’s Environmental Law Clinic, said state leaders need to rekindle the leadership that protected the Pinelands, Highlands and Meadowlands.
“It is up to the leaders and the people of New Jersey to grasp the scientific realities that face us and take the actions that are needed,” Lloyd said.
The third installment of the "Crossroads NJ" report, following ones focused on state finances and the economy, says the state needs a “sustained, well-coordinated effort to prevent climate change from being disastrous for New Jersey.”
“As the report makes clear, time is not on New Jersey’s side,” Lloyd said.
The suggestions include, among other things:
- Rejoining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program from which Gov. Chris Christie withdrew the state in 2011.
- Requiring 80 percent of all electricity sold in the state to come from renewable resources such as wind and solar by 2050.
- Moving ahead with offshore windmills.
- A moratorium on pending pipeline projects.
- Strengthening Clean Water Act protections.
- Stronger standards on contaminants in drinking water.
- A climate-change action plan for the Shore.
- Updates to the State Development and Redevelopment Plan, as well as the plans specific to the Pinelands and Highlands regions.
“Many of these recommendations are not without cost. There’s no question about that,” Lloyd said.
The Fund for New Jersey report says by the end of the century, up to 3 percent of the shore is likely to be lost to rising seas, with as much as 9 percent of the coast flooding occasionally. Lloyd said the Shore Protection Master Plan should be updated – which hasn’t happened for 35 years.
“Predating decades of development, predating Superstorm Sandy and predating the latest climate change revelations and sea-level rise,” Lloyd said.
Fund for New Jersey president Kiki Jamieson said New Jersey didn’t cause climate change alone but will feel its effects before most states.
“Because of our geography and because of the dense population, because such a large proportion of the population lives close to the shore, it will absolutely become our problem.”
Lloyd concedes towns will resist limits on development but says the state has the expertise to help protect homes threatened by sea-level rise.