NJ Governor Seeks Federal Pork
Hurricane Sandy reworked New Jersey’s shoreline but not its development politics. So, when President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force issued a report last week stressing the need to take climate change and sea level rise into account when charting disaster recovery, Governor Chris Christie acted like it was just background noise.
That is because Christie is counting on a river of federal dollars to rebuild at-risk development and anchor vulnerable infrastructure in place, in some cases with steel sheet pilings pounded into beaches – plans that are the exact opposite of the federal investment strategy. Consider these climate-tone deaf Christie plans:
- A $40 million four-mile steel seawall 600 feet off the coast of Brick, New Jersey. This seawall is supposed to protect a highway, Rte. 35, washed out by Sandy. The aptly named Brick is at least the third coastal town for which the state has approved armoring eroded shore developments;
- His call to build a new line of artificial dunes, which, even if a source of sand and money could be found to build them, would likely wash out to sea with the next big storm – a plan that would make King Canute proud; and
- Suppressing climate-related planning. In fact, Christie’s minions censored state coastal management reports by deleting warnings that “Reconstruction of residential development and the conversion of single family dwellings into multi-unit dwellings continues in hazardous areas” and a recommendation that “private development and redevelopment must be directed away from the hazardous areas.”
Not surprisingly, New Jersey is one of the few states without a climate strategy. Moreover, the state does not even have up-to-date flood maps for at-risk coastal zones. When New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe confronted the Governor about climate change as a factor in the Sandy devastation Christie dismissed it as an “esoteric concern.”
Epitomizing this head-in-the-sand approach is the promotional campaign featuring TV ads touting the return of Jersey shore tourism, ending with Christie sunnily declaring “We’re stronger than the storm.” As Wolfe pointed out, “New Jersey has to be smarter than, not stronger than, the storm. The science is telling us that these storms will only get stronger and deadlier. New Jersey needs to adjust rather than just resist.”
Christie, of course, knows better. His posture of climate denial is not rooted in belief but so as to not jeopardize the crucial Know Nothing vote in upcoming 2016 GOP presidential primaries. Climate denial based on opportunism is the worst kind. If you want to keep the heat on Gov. Christie, the best way is by keeping Bill Wolfe and New Jersey PEER on his back.
P.S. Want to see what happens to the environment under Tea Party rule? Look no farther than Florida, where nutty Governor Rick Scott is engineering an eco-implosion. P.P.S. Government is supposed to be responsive to citizens but by that measure our EPA is a stiff. It answers only a miniscule portion of rulemaking petitions it receives from states, citizens and regulated industries. Visit EPA’s rulemaking graveyard.
One languishing petition would fix EPA dust corrosivity standards to prevent First Responders from suffering chemical burns to their respiratory systems like those suffered by New York City police and firefighters who waded into corrosive dust following the 9/11 World Trade Center conflagration. Let EPA know that it should better protect First Responders.
P.P.P.S. Make a donation to PEER every time you use your credit or debit card by using Goodswipe. It is easy and you can do a good deed every day.
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