New Jersey’s Climate Change Resilience Strategy
On October 29, 2019—the seventh anniversary of Superstorm Sandy—New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 89 to address climate change concerns in the state. Executive Order No. 89 is the main driver that initiated a state focus on climate change in late 2019 which is anticipated to gather steam moving into 2020. Exec. Order No. 89 (Oct. 29, 2019), 51 N.J.R. 1707(a) (Dec. 2, 2019). The Executive Order establishes a Chief Resilience Officer, Climate and Flood Resilience Program within the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), an Interagency Council on Climate Resilience, Statewide Climate Change Resilience Strategy, and a State Development and Redevelopment Plan. David Rosenblatt, the DEP Assistant Commissioner for Climate and Flood Resilience, has been designated as the Chief Resilience Officer, The Executive Order tasked the Climate and Flood Resilience Program with developing and delivering a Scientific Report on Climate Change to address current and future effects of climate change in the state.
While 2019 kicked off New Jersey’s focus on climate change impacts within the state, we can expect to see many of the obligations imposed by Executive Order 89 play out in 2020. For example, the new year will bring the development of a Statewide Climate Change Resilience Strategy “to promote the long-term mitigation, adaptation, and resilience of New Jersey’s economy, communities, infrastructure, and natural resources throughout the State in a manner consistent with the Scientific Report on Climate Change.” Exec. Order No. 89. The Strategy must include recommendations of actions the state should take to mitigate and adapt to the effect of climate change, including but not limited to the following measures:
- Identify methods to strengthen resilience;
- Provide guidance and strategies for Executive Branch departments and agencies, municipalities, and regional planning agencies;
- Promote long-term water and energy resource security;
- Reduce the risk of wildfires in state forests;
- Reduce the risks to the health of New Jersey residents that may accompany climate change;
- Support sustainable and resilient economic development;
- Identify financing mechanisms, strategies, and opportunities for coordination to support climate resilience measures, mitigation, and adaptation; and
- Any other measures the Chief Resilience Officer determines necessary to prepare for, mitigate, and adapt to the impact of climate change.
Additionally, the Statewide Climate Resilience Strategy must include a Coastal Resilience Plan that recommends “a specific long-term strategy for climate change resilience and adaptation in the coastal areas of the State, i.e., tidal and non-tidal waters, waterfronts, and inland areas along the coast.” The Chief Resilience Officer with the aid of the Interagency Council must provide The Statewide Climate Change Resilience Strategy to the Governor by September 1, 2020. Subsequently, state agencies and municipalities will need to grapple with issues of how to implement the Strategy.