Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

by Martin Milita

To help address climate change threats in New Jersey Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 100 (“EO 100”) on January 27, 2020. Initially, EO 100 directs the NJDEP within two years to establish a monitoring and reporting program designed to identify all significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.  In addition to addressing greenhouse gas emissions, EO 100 instructs the NJDEP to integrate climate change considerations into its existing regulatory and permitting programs, including land use permitting.  EO 100 also requires the NJDEP Commissioner to issue and update periodically an administrative order within which the Department will identify the specific regulations it intends to modify to include climate change considerations.  Pursuant to this directive, NJDEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe issued Administrative Order No. 2020-01 (the “AO”) on the same day as EO 100’s execution.

The AO describes the Department’s intent to prepare a report by June 30, 2020 that will recommend necessary regulatory measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and climate pollutants to meet the 2050 emissions reduction goal.  In support of this goal, the NJDEP will propose regulations to establish a greenhouse gas monitoring and reporting program to identify and monitor all significant sources of statewide greenhouse gas emissions, and to incorporate climate change considerations, such as sea level rise, into land use regulatory programs within the next two years.

Specific programs named in the AO to be modified include the Coastal Zone Management Rules, Freshwater Wetlands Rules, Flood Hazard Control Act, and Stormwater Management Rules.  The incorporation of these considerations into such programs will undoubtedly result in changes to permit applications and renewals for development projects that qualify under these programs, including projects located on coastal waterfront areas or near flood-prone areas further inland.  The full extent of the changes to applicable regulations will not be known for some time, but the NJDEP has begun to schedule public hearings to discuss its plans.

As Governor Murphy’s administration begins implementing its strategies to confront climate threats in a multitude of areas ranging from technological changes in transportation to regulatory changes in land use permitting, the degree to which these strategies will impact New Jersey’s future is uncertain. 

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