Sierra Club
New Jersey Chapter

Hearings Next Week on Sandy Rebuilding & Recovery

Next week the public will finally have an opportunity to comment on the state’s Sandy Recovery Action Plan at 3 public hearings!

New Jersey receives federal Sandy funding through a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program called the Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR).  HUD requires the state to submit an Action Plan to qualify for the funding.  Since the state’s Action Plan for the first round of funding was submitted, HUD as improved program requirements to include action on climate change, adopting more energy efficient building codes, implementing green infrastructure and other important policies.

New Jersey now needs to incorporate those changes into our Action Plan to continue receiving federal funding.  However, earlier this week the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) released the revised Action Plan and it largely IGNORED the new federal requirements, which could jeopardize future grants and put more families and property in harm’s way.  The State Action Plan does not comply with federal requirements by:

  • Not addressing climate change or sea level rise
  • Continues to call for the use of the outdated 2009 energy efficiency code, even though the 2015 standards are now final and are 20% more efficient than what is being used currently  
  • There is no plan to implement Green Infrastructure, natural systems and engineered systems that mimic natural systems, such as blue and green roofs and restoring marshes and coastal wetlands. 
  • For energy infrastructure the focus is hardening, not about energy efficiency, demand response, renewables, or improved distribution technologies

Sandy relief funding is important for the future of New Jersey and how and where we spend the money is a critical.  If we don’t do it right it will impact the state for decades to come, impacting our environment and putting people at risk.  That is why we need you to submit comments and attend these upcoming hearings! 

 

SOUTH JERSEY HEARING
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 from 4:00pm – 7:00pm

Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Performing Arts Center (PAC), 101 Vera King Farris Drive, Galloway, NJ 08205

NORTH JERSEY HEARING

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 from 5:30pm – 8:30 pm

New Jersey Institute of Technology, Campus Center 141 Summit Street, Newark, NJ 07103

CENTRAL JERSEY HEARING

Thursday, February 13, 2014 from 4:00pm – 7:00 pm

Brookdale Community College, Robert J. Collins Arena, 765 Newman Springs Road, Middletown, NJ 07738

 

To sign up to speak, please register online at http://bit.ly/SandyPublicHearings

You can also submit comments directly to the DCA below through March 5th. 

Talking Points:

  • The updated Action Plan is not stronger and better, it is more of the same, promoting the same failed policies of the past.  The plan continues to ignore federal requirements for funding.  Without these changes we are jeopardizing the federal grants and putting people and property at risk. 
  • The revised Action Plan makes no mention of climate change or adaptation and mitigation planning, despite federal requirements to implement such planning based on the latest scientific mapping.  Federal guidelines allow NOAA or local mapping such as Rutgers to be used to set up programs to deal with sea level rise, climate change, and adaptation. The state is not doing that; the revised plan identifies the NOAA sea level rise tool but does not require its use as part of an overall plan for rebuilding.  Instead it simply says it could be used in individual projects.
  • Instead of money going for regional planning or climate mitigation there is $5 million going for more ads like ‘Stronger than the Storm’. 
  • HUD is calling for Green Infrastructure, natural systems and engineered systems that mimic natural systems, such as blue and green roofs and restoring marshes and coastal wetlands.  The Governor has not proposed a plan to pull back from environmentally sensitive areas, restore natural systems, or add dunes along our coast.  There is no state funding to support a buyout program.  The revised plan mentions dunes but that is only a small part of what is needed and they aren’t required everywhere. 
  • For infrastructure and transportation the state is proposing to rebuild in the same places.  For water infrastructure they are ignoring climate change and sea level rise.  For energy infrastructure it is about hardening, not about energy efficiency or improved distribution technologies.  The plan mentions Clean Energy Funds but not that Governor has been raiding the funds so very little money is available. 
  • There are no changes to transparency or accountability.  The federal requirements call for an inclusive, transparent process, but in New Jersey rebuilding has been overseen by the Governor’s appointed Czar, Marc Frezan.   Mr. Frezan has operated behind closed doors in the fifteen months following the storm, only making one public appearance.  There have been no press events, public hearings, panel discussions or other venues where the people of New Jersey and elected officials could ask him questions.  He has even declined to testify before Legislative Committees on Sandy efforts.  
  • The DCA’s 3 public hearings are being rushed.  The public has had little time to review the revised plan or prepare testimony. 
  • Given all the investigations, all the allegations that are happening with Sandy funding in New Jersey, we need to have more time to scrutinize the Sandy Action Plan.  New Jersey has not put in place monitors and there is no oversight or transparency.  Some towns got funding that may shouldn’t and other towns got very little, suggesting there is political motivation.  There is already an investigation by HUD’s Inspector General into some of the first round Sandy funding.   

Recipients

  • Gabrielle Gallagher

Contact

*Required fields
 
 

Message

Comments on CDBG-DR Action Plan Substantial Amendments #6 and #7 Pursuant to Federal Register Notice FR-5696-N-06

Dear [Decision Maker],

As we rebuild from Hurricane Sandy, we need to do so in a way that makes us more resilient to future storms. The federal government has recognized that and has adopted new standards for the Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery program including action on climate change, regional planning, and energy efficient building codes. I am very concerned that the New Jersey Action Plan has not been revised to comply with the new federal requirements, which could jeopardize future rounds of funding for our state.



I urge the DCA to go back and make the changes required by the Sandy Recovery Taskforce and HUD to ensure New Jersey rebuilds in a better and smarter way. We need to address climate change by both reducing our state's carbon pollution and adopting adaptation and mitigation planning and now, with the federal funding from HUD, is the perfect time to undertake those important changes.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]