|The DEP’s proposed rules changes to the Flood Hazard Area Control Act presently permit an influx of real estate development in our state’s natural floodplains. This increase in development is sure to lead to the piecemeal destruction of the vegetation which serves as a natural buffer along the streams in the floodplains. These vegetative buffers function like a large sponge – soaking up flood
With climate change bringing stronger, more destructive weather events, such as Superstorm Sandy just under four years ago, one would think the Department of Environmental Protection would get the picture by now. The weakening of environmental rules and regulations such as the flood hazard rules is the opposite of what we need to be doing to safeguard New Jersey from future environmental, economic catastrophe.
The potential loss of these buffer zones will have a particularly acute impact within the 450,000-acre Highlands Preservation Area which stretches across Warren, Morris, Hunterdon, Passaic, and Sussex counties. This area is not only a pristine expanse open to the public for our recreational enjoyment, it also doubles as a natural
According to the New Jersey Geological Highland
Do we really want to go down the road of encroachment? The cost of that decision to erode these preservation areas bit by bit would eradicate one of our most valued quality of life advantages – a plentiful and inexpensive supply of clean drinking
The Administration’s resigning of the legislative intent of these rules as set forth in the NJ
An increase in flood insurance claims would be another disastrous result of these ill-advised rule changes by the DEP. Flooding is one of the main disasters that many home and business owners face with increasing frequency over the past few years. To loosen the reins on the rules that protect flood hazard areas is simply unconscionable.
Two weeks ago the General Assembly approved and advanced a measure that would prevent the DEP from going forward with their proposed changes to the Flood Hazard Rules. The success of this measure is now in the Senate’s hands. For decades New Jerseyans have consistently supported the acquisition of flood prone lands to remove people from harm’s way, and the proposed rule changes to allow development and the disturbance of the vegetative buffer zones go against what the intent of the people and their elected representatives. They must be forced to go back to the drawing board.
As former Governor Tom Kean has said on this issue, we cannot afford to go backward. It has been the honor of my life to represent the 27th district by serving in the General Assembly, and it is with great respect for the wisdom and integrity of my colleagues in the Senate that I urge that this vote be posted. The state legislature must be allowed to utilize its constitutional authority in order to ensure that the intent and spirit of the NJ Pollution Control Act is adhered to.
John F. McKeon is a Democratic member of the New Jersey General Assembly representing the 27th Legislative District. He is the author of the 2004 Highlands Act and is currently the Vice-Chair of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.