Climate change

NJDEP publishes two studies on impacts of precipitation due to climate change, providing scientific basis for proposed regulations | Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Two studies confirming the increase in precipitation in New Jersey over the past 20 years due to climate change will provide a scientific basis for the continued development of an initiative, known as Climate Threat Protection (“NJPACT” ) required by Order in Council of Governor Phil Murphy. NJDEP No. 100, and NJDEP Administrative Order No. 1, according to NJDEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette. The executive and administrative decrees call on the NJDEP to implement regulatory reform to help reduce greenhouse gases as well as make the natural and built environment more resilient to the inevitable impacts of climate change. The two studies conducted by the Northeast Regional Climate Center, a partner of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”), also predict a further increase in precipitation intensity through the end of the century due to climate change. The NJDEP says these reports “will help governments, communities and businesses in their work to build climate resilience.”

What would you like to know:

  • According to the NJDEP, New Jersey is at “zero point” for climate impacts such as sea level rise and more intense and frequent weather events such as storms and flooding.
  • Two recent studies have confirmed an increase in precipitation in New Jersey and predict a further increase in the intensity of precipitation.
  • Recently published studies may have implications for several rules proposed by NJREAL regarding land use.

According to the NJDEP, New Jersey is at “zero point” for climate impacts such as sea level rise and more intense and frequent weather events such as storms and flooding. As a result, it has embarked on strong prevention and mitigation efforts that could serve as models for other coastal states that have yet to develop their own regulatory frameworks. NJPACT has two main frameworks to help it achieve its goals: Resilient Environments and Landscapes (“NJREAL”) and Climate Pollutant Reduction (“CPR”).

Recently published studies may have implications for the following rules proposed by NJREAL:

  • The rules of the flood risk zone (“IRZ”). The IRZ, which would be a new regulatory zone, consists of drylands that are expected to be flooded daily or permanently by tidal waters by 2100. The IRZ rule proposes that development in the IRZ be subject to standards more protective.
    • New buildings would require a hardship exception.
    • Elevation standards for new and significantly damaged / upgraded residential buildings.
    • Non-residential and non-critical buildings flood protection option if elevation is not practical.
  • Redefine tidal flood risk areas to account for impacts of sea level rise. The current tidal floodplain is based on FEMA’s 100-year flood elevation. The proposed Climate Adjusted Flood Elevation (“CAFE”) in tidal areas is five feet above the FEMA 100-year flood elevation.
  • Redefine areas at risk of river flooding to account for future expansion of river areas due to increased precipitation and runoff. The NJDEP offered two options for elevation standards in these areas.
  • Elevation standards for new and rebuilt full depth roads.


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