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Smith, Greenstein Bill to Require Climate Vulnerability Plans Clears the Senate

Trenton –Legislation that would require local governments to include climate vulnerability in the municipal master plans, cleared the Senate today. The bill is sponsored by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee’s Chair Senator Bob Smith and Vice-Chair Senator Linda Greenstein.

“New Jersey is one of the most vulnerable states in the nation to climate change,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “In my own district, we will see much more frequent flooding along the Raritan River, similar to what we saw during Superstorm Sandy. Climate change, without any federal or true global leadership, is going to be with us for the foreseeable future and because of that, we need to make sure our towns and our cities are prepared.”

“Much of New Jersey is susceptible to the effects of climate change, from the flood plains in Central Jersey to the low-lying Shore towns and the wild-fire prone forests of North and South Jersey,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “These scenarios should give us more than enough reason to start planning immediately, so we can mitigate the effects of climate change now before it is too late.”

The bill would require that the land-use plan section of a municipal master plan would have to include a climate change-related hazard vulnerability assessment. The assessment would consider the environmental effects associated with climate change on all aspects of a municipality. Examples of environmental effects would be temperature rise, drought, flooding and sea level rise. The plan would also have to contain ways to mitigate natural disasters.

A 2017 law, authored by Senator Smith, required municipal master plans to include ways to implement smart growth such as electric vehicle charging stations, storm resiliency for energy facilities and flood-prone areas, and environmental sustainability. This bill expands upon this existing law.

The bill, S-2607, was released from the Senate by a vote of 28-11.