5 Ways Our Neighbors Are Kicking NJ’s Butt on Climate Change

New Jersey doesn’t have a statewide plan for keeping our people safe, our economy strong, and our businesses thriving when the next Sandy hits.

Every state around us does, or at least is far ahead of us. There’s boatloads of good work going on in our towns and counties, but nothing on the coordinated, resource-efficient State level.

Why not? I’d like to ask personally Governor Christie about the role that climate change plays in our hot summers, destructive storms, and rising sea levels. (I believe he’s a smart man and knows perfectly well the risks facing our state.)

Chris Sturm from New Jersey Future wrote a great Sept. 23, 2013 article for NJ Spotlight where she laid out what NJ is missing and what our neighbors are doing to plan for Climate Change.

As an update, here’s the latest ways that our neighbors are pulling way ahead of New Jersey to be ready for the next big storm.

1. In New York on Jan. 7, Gov. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $17 billion climate change resiliency strategy to keep the state’s citizens safe from future Sandy-scale events. It’s called “Reimagining New York for a New Reality.”

Last June, Mayor Bloomberg announced the “A Stronger, More Resilient New York” document with NYC recommendations for rebuilding post-Sandy and strengthening infrastructure and building citywide.

2. Look at Connecticut’s Climate Preparedness Plan. Just last week, Governor Malloy stood front-and-center at the ribbon-cutting for a new world-class climate resiliency institute.

3. Low-lying Delaware’s Gov. Markell knows that his state is vulnerable to climate change and that it’s a state priority right now. In December, Markell attended the inaugural meeting of the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness as a Presidential appointee.

4. Here’s Maryland’s state climate change plan. On Jan. 31, the state issued new guidelines for state construction in areas vulnerable to coastal flooding and sea level rise.

5. And finally, Massachusetts’ Gov. Deval Patrick announced Jan 14 that the state is adding $50 million to its already robust statewide climate change planning efforts.

Right now, in New Jersey we’ve got Bridgegate and the governor’s baffling pocket veto last week of a sensible law that would let the public know about raw sewage discharges into public waterways. (A law, by the way, that New York has had on the books since 2012.)

In the cold comfort category, at least we have Pennsylvania for company. Our neighbor to the west has a new climate action plan that doesn’t include specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

So who’s filling the state leadership gap?

I wrote back in May that the NJ Climate Change Adaptation Alliance has stepped up to fill the leadership and coordination role that I feel the Governor and the NJDEP should be doing.

This alliance of NJ-focused planning, development, and conservation groups are working together to create a climate change adaptation plan for New Jersey.

And on the citizen side, as well as NJPPN, we can count on the good work being done by Citizens Climate Lobby to give our legislators support for reducing carbon emissions.

I care about our state, and want our state leaders to take the actions needed to prove they do too.

Can you think of any sane reason that our neighbors should be kicking our butts on climate action? I can’t. So check out these links and then tell your local and state legislators to get us stronger than the next storm.

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