Sierra Club says climate change warnings being ignored by state

TRENTON – The Christie administration is ignoring dire warnings of climate change, according to the N.J. Sierra Club.

As a result, the state is rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy but ignoring its lessons, thereby placing residents at future risk, the organization claimed Monday.

However, the Department of Environmental Protection shot back later that the report the Sierra Club cited does not contradict stated policy but is meant to be part of an ongoing, evolving dialogue concerning climate.

In reference to the report, Sierra Club Executive Director Jeff Tittel said Monday that “If science sits on a shelf, it doesn’t help people.’’

The report prepared by the DEP Office of Science came out in June but DEP deliberately has not been drawing attention to it because it is at odds with the Christie administration’s political agenda, which includes pulling the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, cutting back on green energy goals and delaying offshore wind energy development, according to Tittel.

The report, however, recognizes the realities of rising sea levels, human-induced climate change, and increases in mean temperatures, Tittel said.

“We need to make sure we’re rebuilding the state on a foundation of sound science, not on a foundation of sand that’s going to be washed away,” Tittel said.

The Sierra Club in New Jersey has been one of the strongest and most consistent critics of the Christie administration’s environmental policies, and DEP was just as strong Monday in its rebuttal.

DEP spokesman Larry Ragonese said that the Executive branch has been consistent in acknowledging human effect on climate change, rising sea levels, and other environmental concerns.

“It is not a change in our thought processes here,’’ he said. “There is nothing groundbreaking in this latest compilation.’’

Ragonese described the report Tittel referred to as analyses of trends, part of a continuing dialogue among the scientific community.

The information is there for the public to have some idea of what is happening while the state goes about the business of rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy as quickly as possible while at the same time addressing long-term concerns such as making the coast more resilient.

During a press conference Monday, Christie was asked whether he had any comment on the report. But he said he had not read it yet.

But Tittel maintains that the report shows that the state, in rebuilding after Sandy, is making the same mistakes as before, such as not pursuing green construction, not doing enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and not ensuring dunes are consistently part of all beach restoration. 

The report:

Sierra Club says climate change warnings being ignored by state