LETTER HUD Denied Millions for NJ Because of Christie’s Policies

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just released information of their grant funding for the National Disaster Resiliency Competition (NDRC). New Jersey only received $15 million from the grant, despite needing more than $300 million in flood relief project funding for North Jersey. In comparison, New York received $200 million in funding. New Jersey’s proposal including projects for areas such as Carlstadt, East Rutherford, Hackensack, Hasbrouck Heights, Little Ferry, Moonachie, Rutherford, South Hackensack, Teterboro, and Wood-Ridge. The Sierra Club believes that because the Christie Administration refuses to acknowledge the consequences of climate change, that New Jersey’s projects could not qualify for some of these HUD grants.


“New Jersey lost out on millions of dollars because the Christie Administration has ignored the Obama Administration’s requirements to deal with climate change and sea level rise. Even though we have been devastated by Sandy and are one of the most vulnerable places to storm surges and sea level rise, New Jersey has failed to address climate impacts and won’t even mention sea level rise or climate change. Instead, we oppose the Clean Power Plan and aren’t doing anything to reduce greenhouse gases and that’s why we were denied this grant,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.


The Sierra Club has written to HUD in the past to say that New Jersey was not following the Obama Administration’s regulations on climate change. Their ignoring climate change has held New Jersey from moving forward in energy efficiency efforts. Governor Christie’s actions have continuously moved us away from resiliency and clean energy.


“By denying climate change, Christie is now denying us millions of dollars in funding to become more resilient. He has sold out the rebuilding of New Jersey to his national political ambitions. The Governor closed the Office of Climate Change, ended DEP’s Coastal Program for Climate Mitigation and Adaptation, and pulled us out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to address climate change. He has taken over a billion dollars from the clean energy fund. Christie has blocked offshore wind, while pushing pipelines and taking money from the fracking industries,” said Jeff Tittel. “His denial of climate change being a crisis means that the agencies are not working to mitigate or adapt for climate change. Now we were denied the grants because of it.”


New Jersey’s planning does not mention of climate change or adaptation and mitigation planning nor does it work to reduce the effects of climate change or decrease carbon emissions. This clearly violates the HUD guidelines which reflect the President’s executive orders on climate change and clean power. New Jersey was not following the HUD guidelines on implementing the President’s Executive Order on climate impacts. New York state is mapping for and mitigating for climate change, as well as requiring green building and energy efficiency standards. New Jersey’s programs and grant application did not include these things and that’s why we didn’t get the money.


“New York got the money and New Jersey didn’t because they are actually planning for climate change while we aren’t. The HUD grant is about dealing with climate change and sea level rise but the DEP and the Christie Administration won’t even use those words. The grant is also about reducing climate impacts yet the Christie Administration is actively opposing the President’s Clean Power Plan,” said Jeff Tittel.  “HUD’s not going to give money to a state that won’t address climate change and sea level rise because the money will just wash away in the next storm. New Jersey failed to follow the rules and that is why we weren’t awarded the grant money.”


When it comes to dealing with climate change and flooding, the Christie Administration has moved in the wrong direction.  The DEP’s recent changes to the CAFRA and Coastal Zone Management rules will add more loopholes and waivers and weakening coastal protections.  The rules do not strengthen protections, encourage more regional planning, address climate change or sea level rise, and they do not include programs for adaptation or mitigation of sea level rise, resiliency, or natural systems restoration.   This will add more development in hazard areas and put people and property in harm’s way.


“The federal monies coming in for rebuilding should be going towards adaptation and mitigation, restoring natural systems and requiring green buildings and energy efficiency so that New Jersey will have a fighting chance. Instead, the Christie Administration continues to squander opportunities for improving resiliency by continuing to ignore climate change,” said Jeff Tittel.


Instead of addressing climate change and sea level rise they want to perpetuate failed programs of the past. They are not looking at buyouts, creating flood storage areas, or elevating to appropriate levels. They refuse to even use the words “climate change” or “sea level rise.” This stubbornness has cost us millions of dollars in federal funding.


“The Christie Administration’s irresponsible approach to managing resiliency without fighting climate change or sea level rise has cost the people of New Jersey over $200 million in federal money. Communities need these funds to rebuild after storm events and help mitigate against sea level rise and other climate change consequences,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “With all the people of New Jersey that have been devastated by the recent storms, ignoring climate change is outrageous, dangerous, and puts people at risk. Now it’s cost us millions of dollars to improve our environment, safety and communities as well.”