NJ Gov Vetoes Bill That Would Have Increased Coastal Damage Risk

Statement by Erika Spanger-Siegfried, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Aug 19, 2013


WASHINGTON (August 19, 2013) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did the right thing today by vetoing a bill that would have allowed development on piers in coastal high hazard areas and put more people and property in harm’s way, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Erika Spanger-Siegfried, a senior analyst at UCS.

“Governor Christie did the right thing today. He demonstrated leadership by putting the safety and welfare of New Jersey residents and the long-term viability of coastal communities ahead of narrow short-term economic interests. This decision puts common sense and pragmatism above politics and special interests.”

“The state faces huge flooding risks because its coastline is so exposed and densely populated. With North Atlantic hurricanes becoming stronger, flooding from storm surge worsening, and sea level rise already measured at 20 inches in Atlantic City, this bill would have set the stage for New Jersey to get hit hard again, at a time when its priority is making itself safer.  

“The bill would have been in sharp contrast to the recommendations issued today by a presidential task force charged with developing a strategy for rebuilding areas damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The task force’s main message is that communities must plan for future storms in an age of climate change and rising sea levels.

“Post-Sandy rebuilding is at a critical early stage in a long campaign to make our coastal communities safer and more resilient in a future of climate change and rising sea levels. This isn’t going to be easy, and we need leaders willing to make hard choices – choices that help our communities prepare in the near term and choices that protect the long-term future of our coast by reducing carbon emissions to help slow global warming and sea level rise.”

For more information on incentives that encourage risky coastal development, see UCS’s report “Overwhelming Risk: Rethinking Flood Insurance in a World of Rising Seas”; a blog by UCS’s senior climate economist and report author, Rachel Cleetus, which discusses the report and the New Jersey bill Christie; and UCS Senior Analyst Erika Spanger-Siegfried’s blog, which also highlights the bill’s flaws.