How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is clearly Ocean.
-- Arthur C. Clarke
A scene from Barnegate Lighthouse State Park
A scene from Barnegate Lighthouse State Park

Climate change — particularly sea level rise, ocean warming and acidification — will significantly challenge New Jersey’s coastal waters and shoreline. Inadequate planning, management and land use policies have increased the vulnerability of coastal ecosystems, communities and local economies dependent upon a clean ocean.

Responding to climate change addresses longstanding problems such as water pollution, wildlife habitat destruction and lack of public access. The next administration must aggressively reform the current approach, anticipate and plan regionally for climate impacts and develop new approaches to manage land uses at all levels of government, as well as encourage and leverage private sector investment. Fortunately, New Jersey’s outstanding academia, research and conservation organizations have already laid the groundwork.

The incoming administration must be vigilant about protecting New Jersey’s revitalized coast and shore. In the late 1980s, the waters off the Jersey Shore were the ocean dumping capital of the world. Sewage, medical waste and garbage washed upon New Jersey beaches and caused hundreds of closures each summer. Thanks to the hard work of thousands, the ocean is now dumpsite free and beach closures are a rarer occurrence. The Jersey Shore is now a premier vacation destination and coastal tourism generates more than $22 billion annually. However, no laws protect the coast and shore from the many potentially harmful liquefied natural gas industry proposals and federal proposals for oil and gas development.

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Recommendations

  • Protect New Jersey’s coast through regional climate awareness management and policies
  • Protect offshore ocean resources

First 100 Days

Launch a Coastal Resiliency Initiative and convene New Jersey’s expert climate change researchers and policy leaders to make a top-ten list of actions that strengthen New Jersey’s coastal management programs and reduce vulnerability of both natural landscapes and communities in light of climate change and sea level rise
Oppose harmful industrialization such as fossil fuel exploration or development, industrial activities, seismic testing and other activities that increase pollution or threaten marine life

First Year

Adopt regulations that consider sea level rise in state decision making — particularly for publicly funded infrastructure — using tools such as Flood Mapper and the Coastal Vulnerability Index
Increase Blue Acres land acquisition opportunities to reduce future vulnerability, to avoid repetitive losses and associated public costs, and create open space opportunities supporting the coastal tourism economy
Revise the Shore Protection Master Plan to reduce rising sea level vulnerability and to increase resilience in order to guide public investments in a manner that takes climate change into account
Direct the DEP to use its current authority under the Tidal Wetlands Act to:
-- Increase buffer zones and setbacks from tidal marshes and waterways
-- Prioritize the use of natural approaches to coastal erosion control and hazard reduction
-- Enhance the current policies on allowable development on coastal dunes to strengthen the protection of these natural barriers to storm impacts
Strengthen public access rules, enhance water resource protection programs and reject current Coastal Area Facility Review Act “CAFRA” and Flood Hazard Rule changes proposed by the outgoing administration
Develop a regional Dredge Material Management Plan so channels are maintained and material is used beneficially. Accelerate research concerning the use of dredged materials to restore coastal wetlands and living shorelines
Call for legislation to protect ecological marine resources such as prohibiting ocean dumping and pollution sources, protecting natural habitat areas and blocking harmful industrialization
Use the current regional ocean planning process to protect fish, birds and other marine life habitats during all life cycles; prime fishing areas; marine mammal birthing, nursing, and migratory paths; and ecologically rich areas through aggressive implementation of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan
New Jersey LCV Education Fund greatly appreciates each organization’s contributions and valued expertise shared in this effort as well as the immeasurable commitment put forward to protecting New Jersey’s environment:

The American Littoral SocietyAssociation of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC)Clean Ocean Action (COA)ClimateMamaEnvironmental Defense Fund (EDF)GreenFaithHackensack RiverkeeperIronbound Community Corporation (ICC)Isles, Inc.Moms Clean Air ForceMonmouth Conservation Foundation (MCF)New Jersey AudubonThe NJ Clean Cities CoalitionNew Jersey Conservation FoundationNew Jersey FutureNew Jersey Highlands CoalitionNJ Work Environment Council (WEC)NY/NJ BaykeeperNew York-New Jersey Trail ConferencePinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA)Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA)ReThink Energy NJSave Barnegat BayStony Brook-Millstone Watershed AssociationThe Land Conservancy of New JerseyTri-State Transportation CampaignThe Trust for Public LandWilliam Penn FoundationGeraldine R. Dodge FoundationThe Fund for New Jersey

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