Environmental Advocate Criticizes Christie

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STATE — A noted environmental advocate says that Gov. Chris Christie’s emergency order last week adopting new FEMA flood maps doesn’t go far enough.

“What the Governor did was make it sound like building standards would be better, but he is actually maintaining the status quo,?” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

New Jersey adopted  FEMA’s updated Advisory Base Flood Elevation maps, but only as applied to elevation and rebuilding codes. The Department of Environmental Protection was not required to adopt the new maps for its regulatory programs, and homeowners are still free to ignore the new standards as long as they are willing to pay higher flood insurance premiums.

“The state will be approving projects where they will not be able to get flood insurance or mortgages risking rebuilding our coast and our economic recovery,” Tittel said.  “?Since you do not have to meet the FEMA standard people may not realize they will not be reimbursed or that they cannot get flood insurance.?”

The governor’s emergency order only applies to the coast, not statewide. It does not include inland areas that experienced major flooding in Hurricane Sandy such as Sayerville and the Meadowlands or areas that traditionally flood such as along the Passaic and Raritan Rivers. Besides the coast, all other counties will still use the old maps that have not been updated since 1980 in some cases.

“?Before we can rebuild the Jersey Shore we need to know where we can build and if the state does not adopt the updated FEMA maps into the DEP regulatory programs, we are going to be putting more people at risk by creating more danger and more flooding. We will not be able to build the Shore smarter or better if we do not have a foundation based on science and these FEMA maps,”? Tittel said.

Tittel also criticized the governor for his conditional veto of a bill to promote zero emission vehicles, saying that Christie’s changes essentially gut the legislation.

“The Governor has just thrown a road block for making clean cars and zero emission vehicles a reality in New Jersey,” Tittel said. “Instead of embracing the new technology that would drive New Jersey into the future, the governor through his conditional veto is driving us backwards into 1950s. Wouldn’t it be better for the state for people to buy fuel efficient and zero emission vehicles to replace the many cars that people lost during the storm. It would not only drive our economy forward, but would help create more jobs, save us money on gas and clean our air.”


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