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New Jersey Future Provides Direction at Joint State Senate and State Assembly Climate Hearing

August 16th, 2022 by

“As New Jersey works to advance decarbonization and resilience efforts, we must ensure that residents are able to make informed decisions for themselves, and their families, in the wake of growing climate risks,” said New Jersey Future (NJF) Policy Manager Kim Irby, at the August 11th joint legislative committee hearing hosted by State Senator Bob Smith (D-17) and State Assemblyman James Kennedy (D-22) last Thursday. She continued, “New legislation with long overdue reforms would ensure that New Jersey homebuyers, renters, and business owners are fully informed about the ever-increasing risks of flooding so that they can protect their belongings and families.”

Kim Irby and Pete Kasabach (NJF) providing testimony to the joint committee on environment last Thursday. Photo Credit: Hannah Reynolds

Irby’s remarks, accompanied by an introduction and conclusion from NJF Executive Director Pete Kasabach, were part of a joint hearing on the environment and climate change, with representatives from the New Jersey State Senate and State Assembly present. The testimony outlined added costs of the growing threat of flooding for New Jersey homes and communities, before introducing the potential for flood disclosure laws to help inform buyers of risks of flooding associated with the properties they purchase. Presently, Irby informed the committee, flood disclosure laws in New Jersey fall significantly below the nationwide standard. Irby and Kasabach suggested that the legislature take steps to build transparency around flood disclosure, including requiring data to be available surrounding historical flood data, flood projections, and flood insurance status, to name a few. All six official recommendations are listed in NJF’s testimonial, available online.

As NJ grapples with drought and braces for an impending storm season, the joint Senate Environment and Energy Committee and the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee hearing examined an array of legislative approaches to addressing climate change. The testimony on flood disclosure proved to be very timely and important within the broader context of the hearing. Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Shawn LaTourette opened the meeting with remarks on the growing impacts of climate change and the need for urgent political support to mitigate growing climate risk, including flooding, stormwater management, and rising sea levels. Other environmental advocates presented concerns around coastal resilience and sustainable development in coastal NJ communities. Finally, the legislature heard public testimony on two proposed bills related to renewable energy portfolios and fossil fuel divestment.

The hearing offered an opportunity to address the widespread risks of climate change experienced in New Jersey, and the flood disclosure testimony from NJF staff contributed meaningfully to the diverse dialogue on climate and environmental issues across the state. In all, as Commissioner LaTourette explained, “There is no one silver bullet that will protect every community… There is, however, a network of solutions that will ensure the resilience of our communities and economies in the face of a changing climate.” Improved flood disclosure laws offer one such solution.

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