Governor Murphy Stalls on his Promises for the Coastal Environment 

April 9th, 2024

For Immediate Release 

Monday April 8, 2024  


Media Contacts: 

Jennifer Coffey: [email protected]  

Anjuli Ramos-Busot:[email protected]  

Ed Potasnak: [email protected]  

Michael Pisauro: [email protected]  

Tim Dillingham: [email protected]  

Phil Echevarria: [email protected] 

Governor Murphy stalls on his promises for the coastal environment 

Trenton: A coalition of New Jersey advocates and environmental organizations are expressing growing frustration as Governor Murphy delays action on his promises to protect against flooding.   

In January 2020, in response to mounting scientific research, Governor Phil Murphy announced one of the most ground breaking policies we’ve seen so far: Executive Order 100, which  directed the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to adopt Protecting Against Climate Threats (NJ PACT) regulations. These rules, which are essential for building a resilient future for all New Jerseyians, would integrate climate change impacts such as sea level rise and current precipitation rates into the regulatory process, enhance protections for coastal areas, improve stormwater programs, protect the sources of our streams and rivers,  and safeguard critical wildlife habitats.  

Although the Murphy administration made progress with the Inland Flood Protection Rules in July 2023, communities are still awaiting the larger set of updates under the NJPACT Resilient Environments and Landscapes (NJPACT REAL) rules.  

In the four years since Governor Murphy announced these rules that would protect New Jerseyans from climate threats, sea level rise, beach erosion and inland flooding have continued to plague towns throughout New Jersey. Independent reports from Rhodium’s Energy & Climate team estimate that over $15 billion worth of homes and buildings are now likely to flood at least once a year. Meanwhile, the most recent National Climate Assessment reports that over 80% of properties in the Northeast lack adequate flood insurance coverage.  

The REAL Rules provide vital solutions needed to tackle these challenges. They will modernize how we build more resilient infrastructure that protects nature and people from the looming threats of climate change. The rules add increased protections for all communities statewide and encourage us to use the best science to inform our future plans. 

These rules have the potential to protect our valuable ecosystems, vulnerable infrastructure, and the lives of our New Jersey residents. We are calling on Governor Murphy to keep his promises set forth by Executive Order 100 and file the complete set of the NJPACT Rules to protect our environment and residents from climate threats. 

“Time and time again, Governor Murphy has recognized the increasingly devastating impacts of the climate crisis in New Jersey. We are experiencing more storms and flooding across the State that put lives and property at risk. Yet, Governor Murphy continues to stall on his 2020 promise to integrate climate science such as sea level rise into planning and regulations that protect residents and communities,” said Jennifer M. Coffey, ANJEC Executive Director. “We are calling on Governor Murphy to immediately publish the NJPACT REAL regulations that will protect public health, safety, and our shared environment” 

 “To prepare for the impacts of climate change, we can’t set the bar so low by saying let’s just try not to make flooding and beach erosion worse,” said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the American Littoral Society. “We need to aim higher and focus on how we make things better.  We do that by requiring redevelopment projects to better control stormwater runoff. We do that by retaining and infiltrating more stormwater to recharge our groundwater. We do that by protecting environmentally sensitive areas like wetlands and headwaters.” 

“The NJ REAL/Pact Rules are critical to keeping our communities above water. Sunny-day flooding is normalized in too many New Jersey towns, and now even light rain events have the capacity to endanger both people and property. It is time for these rules to reflect the most recent science of climate change in order to truly be effective and keep our residents out of harm’s way,” said Anjuli Ramos-Busot, New Jersey Director of the Sierra Club. “The New Jersey Sierra Club echoes the call for Governor Murphy to act now and keep his promise to protect New Jerseyans from climate threats and adopt the REAL rules as soon as possible because they are REAL-ly important.” 

“NJ is in desperate need of bold action.  Year after year, the storms that batter NJ result in unnecessary and devastating flooding.  Flooding that costs residents, businesses and municipalities in lost lives, damages to property and destruction of infrastructure.  The longer we wait for stronger protections, the harder it will be for NJ and its communities to become more resilient,” said Jim Waltman, Executive Director of The Watershed Institute.  “In 2020 Governor Murphy announced a bold initiative to incorporate climate science into our regulations and ordinances. Unfortunately, we have seen only partial follow-through on those promises.  We call on the Governor to make good on his bold promise and release the long delayed NJPACT Rules.” 

“The urgency of implementing NJPACT REAL regulations cannot be overstated,” said Barbara Brummer, State Director for the New Jersey Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. “As a society we share the responsibility to protect nature and people against the escalating risks of climate change and urge Governor Murphy to file these crucial Regulations.” 

“Frequent flooding from severe storms is causing millions of dollars in property damage, snarling traffic, threatening drinking water, and endangering lives, and the problem is only getting worse because of climate change. Governor Murphy promised bold measures to protect communities from storms and flooding. That’s why a coalition of environmental organizations is asking Governor Murphy to immediately release the New Jersey Protecting Against Climate Threats (NJPACT) coastal rules,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey LCV. “We need long-term solutions to address flooding and defend families and businesses from the extreme destruction that is taking place in our coastal communities due to flooding. That’s why releasing the NJPACT REAL rules for coastal communities can’t wait.” 

When it rains, it pours. As New Jersey gets socked by another round of flooding triggered by extreme amounts of rains, it’s clear that our climate is changing. Our land use rules need to reflect this new reality – especially in our coastal communities along the Shore and beyond which are uniquely vulnerable to sea level rise. More than 4 years ago, Gov. Murphy pledged action on these NJPACT rules. There’s no reason to delay further – Gov. Murphy should give a green light to propose NJPACT REAL rules to fulfill that commitment. We shouldn’t wait for the flood waters to be at our door before we act,” said Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey. 


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