Environmentalists: Sandy Rebuilding Plan Should Be Green

Environmentalists call for rebuilding that protects the environment and strengthens communities

Retreating from areas that consistently flood, improving sewer systems so they are less prone to overflowing and creating better wastewater management systems are just a few steps that have to be taken to make the Jersey Shore's post-Sandy rebuilding process more environmentally safe, said environmentalists on Thursday.

Officials from leading New Jersey environmental organizations discussed the importance of taking these measures and many others as part of a teleconference on Thursday when they laid out what the state's guiding principles should be as it moves through recovery and rebuilding.

American Littoral Society’s Tim Dillingham said, “These principles if followed by state, local and private decision makers will result in a restored coastal environment and more resilient communities.”

David Pringle of the NJ Environmental Federation, said, “Those that don’t learn from the past are damned to repeat it. We need to do that here, learn from Sandy, improve on the previous flawed standards and lax building restrictions and more, to better protect people, property, and the environment from extreme weather and climate disruption. Given the human suffering, destruction of natural and economic resources, and cost to taxpayers from Sandy, we can’t afford not to."

Following principles designed for more environmentally-sound coastal restoration is necessary because climate change and rising sea levels are a reality, making more significant weather events more likely to happen more frequently, said Dr. Emile DeVito, Manager of Science and Stewardship, NJ Conservation Foundation.

"And it won't take a Sandy to cause flooding," he added. "We won't need a big storm because the sea level will be higher.

“Sea level rise is accelerating, at least 4½ feet higher by 2100," DeVito said. "A warmer ocean is increasing the frequency of powerful storms. We must embrace these facts to sustain the built and natural resources of our coastline and floodplains. A regional, science-based, strategic retreat in the highest risk areas, with development of new parks and wetlands, must be coupled with defense of crucial re-built environments. Our responses to Sandy and Irene must be compatible with the long-term view of the ocean and rivers of the 22nd century."

Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, also noted that while Sandy caused widespread destruction on land, it also flushed garbage, chemicals and pollutants into the region's back bays.

“Super-storm Sandy not only devastated coastal communities, it was a public health and environmental disaster," Zipf said. "We've launched programs to clean up what washed up onto beaches. Clean ocean waters, back-bays, and beaches draw people to the shore and are the anchor of our communities.

“We must work to ensure that our region is resilient, clean and healthy for decades to come. Restoration of the coastal ecosystem and our coastal culture are possible if we follow these principles and engage the local community to build better, smarter, greener and for the future.”

The Environmental Principles Needed in Rebuilding and Future Coastal Development

New Jersey: Better, Smarter; Guiding Principles to Recover, Rebuild, and Protect from Extreme Weather” is intended to guide state-wide response to this Super-Storm, the most recent storm to expose weaknesses, mistakes and vulnerabilities in planning, regulation, and financial policies, that will define our economic and environmental future for generations," says a statement from the coalition of environmental groups.

The coalition supporting the principles are: American Littoral Society; Alliance for a Living Ocean; Assn. of NJ Environmental Commissions; Clean Ocean Action; Environment New Jersey; Hackensack Riverkeeper; New Jersey Audubon; New Jersey Conservation Foundation; New Jersey Environmental Federation; New Jersey Environmental Lobby; New Jersey League of Conservation Voters; New Jersey Sierra Club; NY/NJ Baykeeper; Pinelands Preservation Alliance; Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association and Surfers' Environmental Alliance.


Leadership: The State has the responsibility, obligation and power to protect life and property.  Every community (human and ecological) is different, but every community operates as a part of a whole; the State must use its power – of regulation and finances – to make our people safe, communities resilient, and environment protected.

Knowledge The State must ensure that the recovery process engages in a rigorous and transparent assessment and understanding of risks and vulnerabilities that led to our Hurricane-devastated coastline and which leaves us vulnerable to future disaster. Meaningful, informed, and transparent public participation is vital for this assessment. For this process to work, both the public and our elected decision-makers must have access to the most accurate data, up-to-date science, and informed experts.

Resiliency: Public and private actions within the recovery must lead to resilient communities; communities which, through restoration of the natural coastal environment and rebuilding informed by observed and future risks, take steps to minimize risks from all hazards, including storms and sea level rise.  The State, as well as local governments, must assess the impact of the storm and, when rebuilding, must take into account storm hazard history and reasonably foreseeable future change.

Public Health: Recovery actions must address the immediate need for public health protection from water and air degradation.  Raw sewage, chemical and oil spills, hazardous materials and mold, and debris removal, and untreated effluent and emissions have created a significant public health emergency state-wide. Clean-up and remediation, especially in vulnerable communities, must be accompanied by clear, and easily-accessible communication of health risks and safety resources.  The immediate notification of the public of threats to public health and welfare must become the norm, state-wide.

Improvement: Recovery and rebuilding provides an opportunity to fix chronic development-related problems such as inadequate stormwater management, substandard sewage infrastructure and treatment, degraded natural habitats, and publicly inaccessible waterfronts.  Improvements must be to the infrastructure which has held back the state’s overall environmental quality and the economies dependent thereupon.

Funding: Funds must be directed to restoring, enhancing and protecting the environment.  “Green” requirements will lead to greater resiliency and more steadfast economic and environmental recovery.  When disbursing public funds, creating incentives for private funds, or constructing development-inducing infrastructure, decision-makers should:

  • Promote natural resource dependent economies;
  • Require softening the shorelines, and the restoration of wetlands, oyster reefs, floodplains, stream corridors, and other habitat and barrier islands;
  • Incorporate green infrastructure and low impact development approaches throughout the State;
  • Be public in nature, conditioned and coordinated for the public’s benefit; and
  • Enhance public access under the principles of the Public Trust Doctrine.

Local Support: Require community-based climate change planning strategies based on outreach to local councils, civic organizations, and grass roots organizations to help communities plan for emergencies and to build support for infrastructure changes.

A New Normal: Barrier beaches, dune systems and stream corridors are, by their nature, constantly changing.  Such fluctuations should be taken into account when investment decisions are made for rebuilding businesses, homes, and infrastructure. Strategic retreat from high storm-surge and flooding risk areas, as well as conversion of these vulnerable areas to parkland through public acquisition, should be considered state-wide.

Planning: State and regional collaboration and coordination is necessary to make recovery and resiliency cost-effective and efficient; rebuilding and restoring the State must be done according to well-balanced plans and programs.

Climate ChangeSmart design, green infrastructure, and promotion of ecosystem services will make communities more resilient, protecting people, economies and the environment; those same ideals can and should be used to reduce the State’s greenhouse gas pollution and carbon footprint as the exacerbation of climate change will lead to short- and long-term economic losses, statewide vulnerability, and less-resilient communities.

Renewable energy, coupled with water and energy conservation and efficiency, will make resiliency affordable and achievable, as well as mitigate future risks.

Jeff Tittel, director of New Jersey Sierra Club, said, “As we continue to understand the devastation and impacts of Hurricane Sandy we are going to need to change things in New Jersey.

"In addition to relief aid we need our leaders to come up with better polices to address the impacts of flooding and climate change on our coast and flood prone areas. 

"It is going to take partnership and tough choices on limiting development in flood prone areas, moving people out of harm’s way and developing real comprehensive programs to reduce greenhouse gases and protect us from climate change and sea level rise."

For more information about how the increased production of greenhouse gases is accelerating climate change and rising sea levels, read a state report http://www.nj.gov/dep/cmp/docs/ccvap-pilot-final.pdf  and a Princeton University report http://www.princeton.edu/step/people/faculty/michael-oppenheimer/recent-publications/Future-Sea-Level-Rise-and-the-New-Jersey-Coast-Assessing-Potential-Impacts-and-Opportunities.pdf

Bricktown Lew December 14, 2012 at 03:01 PM
You know, the best idea would probably be if there are just huge amounts of buyouts on the barrier islands and left as beaches and parks.. Shouldn't more people be living on the mainland and leave the beaches to lounge on, not to live on? Wouldn't that be the greenest plan of all?
lifelonginbrick December 14, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Yes I agree. Considering that natural dunes gradually move back as water levels rise and solid structures do not it would be smarter to move all building in land and perhaps leave the coasts for people to enjoy as beaches and parks. However human nature being what it is there will always be people wanting to rebuild right on the shore line because "WHAAAA I WANT IT!" - it doesn't matter the future cost to everyone else.
Bricktown Lew December 14, 2012 at 05:10 PM
You got that right, Lifelong! Whaaaaa!!! To be honest, it didn't bother me much to see those huge beach homes with the 3rd story outdoor Jacuzzis get hammered because those owners had money to burn and could have lived anywhere. Unfortunately, those places made the most mess and debris for the islands. If there could only be some sort of buyout, then there could be enough beaches and parking for the locals to have somewhere to go during the summer while the BENNY invasion is in full force. I don't go to the beach just to avoid all of that mess! I guess that's why there are so many pools in our area.
Mrgrumpass December 14, 2012 at 05:18 PM
As I expected my opinion was attacked by the Environmental Nazi’s and I stated nothing about not following sound correct environmental practices, but the EN’s must call for condemning the properties on the barrier island and taking away peoples right to live where they want and can afford, so they can lounge on the beach how civil or should I say how left wing Comrades!
lifelonginbrick December 14, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Again if you even bothered to READ the artical you would see that the recomendations were all coming from LOCAL organizations. As long as you refer to anyone who cares about clean water, air and the future of the shore area as a 'Nazi' then nothing you say will be taken seriously. BTW if you think that anyone but the super rich will be able to afford to live by the shore after insurance rates sky rocket then I have a bridge to sell you .....comrade.
Scott Wright December 14, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Well from everything I know about, all building that were destroyed will be rebuilt better and stronger. They must meet new flood levels and all new codes. If your housw was fine not sure what they can make you do. I am not sure where the data came from on these 2 statements "Sea level rise is accelerating, at least 4½ feet higher by 2100," DeVito said. "A warmer ocean is increasing the frequency of powerful storms". In the midst of all this I watched a great special about how ancient Eygpt was doomed by mega drought. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2189802/Egyptian-kingdom-died-4-200-years-ago-following-mega-drought-caused-climate-change.html. Some things are always changing.
lifelonginbrick December 14, 2012 at 07:10 PM
I think the sea level rise comment is based on NOAA estimates. They are looking at several possible outcomes and much depends on the increase of sea ice and ice sheet melting but different models have estimates between 8" and 6.6 feet globally. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/12/06/noaa-sea-level-rise/1750945/ I saw a documentary last year about new evidence on the demise of ancient Egypt. They went into the massive drought. Because the ancient Egyptians were totally dependent on what little rain they got and the nile they had to abandon much of the cities along it. A warmer ocean would increase storms since most tropical storms and hurricans are powered by warm ocean water.
Bricktown Lew December 14, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Good one, Lifelong!! You laid the smackdown on that one...comrade! : ) It's funny how anyone interested in the environment is automatically a "Nazi." Does that mean that anyone interested in destroying it is a Republican??
lifelonginbrick December 14, 2012 at 07:26 PM
I'm old enough to remember when concern for the enviornment wasn't just a liberal idea. Nixon (NIXON!!) created the clean air and water acts but that was back in the day when the republican party was still sane enough not to think any move to curb destruction of our natural resources was a communist plot. Since Ronald "you seen one redwood tree you have seen them all" Reagan it has become trendy (among so called "conservatives") to lable and mock anyone that wants to conserve our natural resouces as a tree hugging liberal Marx reading hippy. They seem to forget that conserving resources is the fiscally responsible thing to do.
Bricktown Lew December 14, 2012 at 08:16 PM
I hear you. There is just so much anger and bitterness in politics today...and I'm not just talking about congress. Being politically neutral, I can clearly see how the "party war" has drifted from a fighting congress using the people as its hostage to everyday people in the area hating each other because of their political party. I'm glad I don't side with either! It is so silly, it's stupid the way the environment has become so "liberal" of an issue these days. I guess those certain people believe that the environment is a liberal thing not worth preserving must not be breathing the same air, drinking the same water, eating the same food, and plan on living on another planet in the future.
lifelonginbrick December 14, 2012 at 08:39 PM
@Bricktown Lew, I agree our political areana has become very sad and stupid. I've been a political junkie since I was a teenager (I couldn't wait to vote) and make no pretensions at being neutral - I'm a progressive Dem. However I used to vote for the person rather than the party and often found common ground with republicans but they were what is called "old school" republicans (and scornfully RINOs by today's party members). That party has been taken over by very extreme elements these days. This last decade has left me astounded as I've watched that party take the American people hostage to get their way (can't pass credit card reform unless we allow guns in national parks???), competed in the primary debates on who could strip enviornmental protections the fastest and don't even get me started on repoductive rights. Now I really can't pull the lever for anyone with a "R" next to their name no matter what the race - the party has become to extreme and just crazy.
Bricktown Lew December 14, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Lifelong, I hear you. It kind of makes you wonder what the founding fathers of this country would think if they would know of the political situation in this country today. I'm sure they were ones that would have looked for person, not party, but not today. Not to go too far off the subject, but it also seems like this president in particular is hated more for the color of his skin than his policies...but then they blame the policies to cover up. I just wish the environment and an infrastructure, 2 extremely important things WE ALL need and share, weren't so hotly contested.
Scott Wright December 15, 2012 at 04:36 AM
Lifelong please name 3 extreme views of the R party Thanks
Scott Wright December 16, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Oh well I understand. Most comments are made to sound god but rarely backed up by facts
lifelonginbrick December 17, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape and incest (that gem is actually part of the party platform), Taxes can NEVER be rasied - ever - even if starting TWO WARS - even 1$ lousy dollar of taxes per 10$ of reduced spending (the incompetent GOP congress demostrated this when they turned down that deal), global warming is a hoax - it's not there are thousands of scientist around the world who can back that up even the scientist that the Koch Bros hired to 'prove' it's a hoax ended up agreeing it's real. You see many countries have "conservative" parties but the US GOP is the only one who thinks global warming is a hoax . Want me to go on???
lifelonginbrick December 17, 2012 at 12:39 PM
@BricktownLew - I'd like to think the rabid hatred of this President doesn't have racial motivations. Calling him a socialist, marxist & communist not only betrays that a person does not really know what these things are but it's waaay off mark against a man who is basically a centrist (Obama is not a liberal by any streach). I mean who know Wall St. would be making records profits under a "socialst"? The GOP has gone so crazy they even vote down their own bills. Heck McConnel just wrote up a bill, asked Reid to put it to a up/down vote and when Reid agreed and did McConnel FILIBUSTED HIS OWN BILL. This is just the level of crazy moronic stupidy that the GOP has now sunk to.
Scott Wright December 17, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Well over 50 % of nation thinks abortion should be illegal (you made it very narrow). Depending on poll 35 to 60% of people do not think taxes should be raised on anybody, (Many up to 40% think should be reduces). I do not think people are ever surprised about global warming, it has been going on for Millions of years. What caused the sea levels to rise 100's of feet in some of the different time periods? I think the real discussion if it truly is happening different then the last millions of years when it occurred, what is causing it? I think all 3 of the issues you mentioned would not be considered extreme if so many people support them. Good discussion.
lifelonginbrick December 17, 2012 at 03:01 PM
I seriously doubt that over 50% of this country would like to see our laws altered so that if a 12 year old was brutally raped by her father she would be forced to carry the baby to term to satisfy some religious dogma yet if the GOP got their way per their platform that could happen. There has been links established between human activity and green house gas and that is causing warming faster. Why is that so hard to believe? Do you think we can pollute the Earth non stop and not pay for it at some point? Yes I'm sure there are a LOT of childish math challenged people that don't want taxes to go up - no one LIKES paying taxes. But since EVERYTHING goes up - our population, infratructure costs, heck the price of bread then you need to pay for that. It's life. To deny that IS extreme. Your point seems to be that if enough people have the same extreme positions then they are no longer extreme. I think of Germany in the 30's or the fact that 18% of Americans think the sun revolves around the Earth and tend to disagree.
Scott Wright December 17, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I agree that is one narrow thing. I could take any policy and add the "crazy" part too it . When we here they will raise 1 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years (i think we can all agree government projections are always suspect) if they raise taxes on the wealthy, how can anybody tax raising taxes seriously if we have a 1.1 trillion dollar deficit this year? How about raise taxes after congress shows they cut 500 billion for 1 year? Lets put the onus on them first for a change. I do not think we can pollute earth and not pay price. We are one small part and have done a great job compared to the other countries. Check the numbers. However, I still get back to the question when water levels rose and temperatures by many degrees years ago what caused it? Can we at least start there see if then calculate how much damage we might be doing?
lifelonginbrick December 17, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Yeah but that policy is part of their actual platform. I think a good starting point would be to put taxes back to 1990 levels and for once seriously cut into military spending. I also think this has to be a gradual thing over 10 years, as we have seen in Europe severe austerity cuts after a recession stagnates growth and is a failure. Another good start would be to eliminate corporate loopholes and tax credits for companies outsourcing jobs - keep those perks on companies actually providing jobs in this country. We need to do both cuts and revenue. Going into two wars while DECREASING revenue was the most insane things this country has ever done. I'm no scientist but if you look into it I'm sure you can find the measurements of increased carbon and green house gas estimates. We know we are polluting the planet beyond sustianable levels in fact just to maintain our current level of growth will take and estimated 1.5 Earths. So I think we need to stop the dicking around and take measures like yesterday. http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/newsletter/det/human_demand_outstripping_natures_regenerative_capacity_at_an_alarming_rate Not sure what you mean by water levels years ago. Hundreds of years ago or thousands of years ago?
Bricktown Lew December 17, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Very well said, Lifelong! One doesn't have to be a scientist, mathematician, legal analyst, financial genius, politically involved or neutral, etc to see that the world is screwed up big time. What it boils down to is simply the fact that mankind's problems cannot be solved by man. It will take a higher intervention. It's all in a book called the bible. The problem is that very few want to read it or hear anyone talking about it.
Scott Wright December 17, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Very well said Lew. The rest of the world is screwed when it comes to the environment . Just look at China and most of the old Iron Curtain. Lifelong I just disagree with you on taxes. I would not give any Politician an extra penny until they show me they can reduce spending for at least one year . You think differently.
Scott Wright December 17, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Bricktown Lew and Lifelonginbrick just found out it is much easier to answer in one post from now on. It will save us all some time!!
lifelonginbrick December 18, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Hehe I think only the three of us are even reading this thread. Lew I think that man CAN take steps to undo the damage we are causing - we have to or the Earth will shake us off like a bad skin disease. I don't put any faith that a magical sky wizard will save us. Scott, sadly we can't just choose if we feel like paying taxes or not (well you can but you may wind up in jail) but I do have some good news for you. According to the WSJ Marketwatch federal spending growth is lower under Obama then it has been under Reagan, Clinton & both Bushes. If your serious about chipping away at the deficit then we need to also consider revenue. http://mediamatters.org/research/2012/05/24/despite-being-warned-right-wing-media-buy-into/176530
Scott Wright December 18, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I am not sure you have read any of my posts. I have never said we should not pay taxes I pay the top rate. I am willing to pay more for my kids and Grand Kids saftey. Again you and I disagree. Cut budget for 1 year then ask for tax increase. That is not asking alot. You must think it is. I also think we have done alot for enviroment. If you are really lifelong brick like me you know what the Bay and Ocean were like 45 years ago and what it is like today. We have done a good job and I am sure we will do more. The truth is with very little manufacturing on east coast it might be taking care of itself! Keep regulations in place add ones that will help.
Bricktown Lew December 18, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Hey there, Lifelong, Ha-ha! Magical Sky Wizard? That sounds so Han Solo-like. I was thinking of that scene when Han was telling Luke that he doesn't believe in the force. Anyway, I understand your view. I have relatives that are atheists as well, so I've heard lots of views. I also meet and teach people that have the same common view. True, I think that mankind can solve some small issues here and there, but none of the large issues that plague people all over. Mankind's imperfections and greed in particular is just too strong will never be able to resolve any serious problems. That's not just a personal view, but one that is in the bible as well. We can only hope for the best in this system we have here.
lifelonginbrick December 18, 2012 at 05:56 PM
@Lew, I'd be happy if mankind can walk back even half the damage we are doing to the planet. When you consider the astounding odds of a habitable planet being created with just the right conditions you would have thought we would take it's care more seriously. Humans must be the only species that willfully destroys our own habitat for short term gain in shiney objects. You are 100% correct that greed is one heck of a hurdle. As a species seems we always have to learn things the hard way...then relearn them over and over again. @ Scott : You and I probably agree on more than you think. I'd like to see wasteful spending cut (such as our bloated military). SS is not an entitlement and doesn't contribute toward the deficit and can be shored up by just raising the contribution income cap. Medicare is the tough one. As to raising revenue? I'd be happy if they rolled by the Bush tax cut's for anyone over 250K to start then all the cuts when we have recoved a bit more. Yes, I remember what this area used to be like. Most of my neighborhood was still dirt roads, you could actually smell the pine trees and ocean and hear Whiporwills at dusk. I was very nice.
Scott Wright December 19, 2012 at 12:49 AM
They are not the Bush tax cuts they are our current tax rates for 10 years They are the rates President Obama has kept for 4 years almost as long as Bush. SSi and Medicare are easy for me add 1 2 3 months for each year starting at 55 so you get it later. We all know if the same tables were adjusted for today you would you would retire at 80 so find a compromise in between but let younger adults prepare. Miltary budget of course should be also looked at. Wow I am 56 and my experience is almost the opposite. I now smell the salt air better, we have what we call "Caribbean blue ocean water" over half the days of the summer. When I was a kid there was crap from New York dumping 6 miles off coast. Again you and I disagree I think the beaches air and water are much better now that 50 years ago.
lifelonginbrick December 19, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Nope they are the Bush tax cuts and they were a moronic thing Bush put into place during TWO wars and they were not worth it. As stupid as they were even Bush knew they had to expire. They along with two unpaid wars are the big cause of our deficit. Congress controls this countries purse strings - they create and approve our budgets so it was unfortunate that they choose to hold the American people hostage during a recession and made unemployment extensions dependent on keeping those moronic cuts in place. Obama was faced with either allowing millions of people having their unemployment benifits yanked from them during a recession or extending the Bush tax cuts - the GOP forced that on us. I was referring to Brick town before it became a congested poop hole and while you don't see much medical waste on the beach like the 80's I can assure you the Ocean's did not get healthier. Currently there are over six massive floating garbage islands (one the sixe of Texas!!) made mostly of plastic garbage slowly degrading, breaking down and leaching millions of tons of toxic chemicals into the ocean. No one even knows HOW to clean it up. It's a massive time bomb. This is going straight into our food chain. You don't even want to know about the massive nitrogen pollution cause by fertilizer runoff.
Scott Wright December 19, 2012 at 05:16 PM
We disagree. Again we will all find out who was right in the next 4 years or so. President Obama could be doing the exact right thing. President Busch could have messed it all up. The truth will come out!!


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