NJ Interagency Council Releases New Plan To Help State’s Extreme Heat Problem

By: Morgan Reitzel, Follow South Jersey Intern

SOUTH JERSEY – New Jersey’s Interagency Council on Climate Resilience is asking for public input on how to address extreme heat priorities and concerns as a series of documents called the Resilience Action Plans which come into focus to be released later this year. 

The Resilience Action Plans that focused on addressing the extreme heat resulting from climate change and will build upon the  Statewide Climate Change Resilience Strategy that outlines how state agencies plan to incorporate climate resilience into their policies. 

Nick Angarone, Vice Chair of the Interagency Council and the state’s Chief Climate Resilience Officer, says  that “the Extreme Heat Resilience Action Plan will pay special attention to those communities, identifying state agency actions that focus on environmental justice and equity.” 

This issue is very important to South Jersey because according to What Climate Change Means for New Jersey, “most salt marshes between Cape May and the Meadowlands are unlikely to keep pace if sea level rises three feet. Wetlands along Delaware Bay in Cumberland County are even more vulnerable, and likely to be lost if the sea rises two feet. Tidal flats are also likely to become open water. Beaches erode as sea level rises. A higher ocean level makes it more likely that storm waters will wash over a barrier island or open new inlets.”

New Jersey has had the hottest statewide average temperature in summer 2022 to date. According to the New Jersey Scientific Report on Climate Change, temperatures that exceed over 90 degrees for various days can cause diminishing air quality, increased pressure on food and water supplies, and immediate and long-term health problems. 

More than 180,000 people that live in New Jersey are especially vulnerable to the extreme heat and also New Jersey is the sixth-fastest warming state since the 1970s, according to States at Risk.  

“The development of Resilience Action Plans with public input will be very important tools for guiding us as we address how New Jersey can face the worsening impacts of climate change,” DEP Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette said. “Every person’s feedback is valuable in this process, and I encourage as many people as possible to participate in the upcoming webinars to share their thoughts for making our state more climate resilient.”

A webinar will be held on Thursday, February 9 to present the Resilience Action Plan initiative and the scoping document. A second webinar will be held on Thursday, March 2 to seek public input on the extreme heat issues at hand caused by climate change.

The Interagency Council will be seeking public feedback on this issue through March 17 and a scoping document that addresses what is the Resilience Action Plan’s purpose, content, and development process. 

The 22 agencies that make up the Interagency Council will make up one to two Resilience Action Plans a year that focus on a specific climate threat. With the guidance and templates that the Interagency Council has developed, it has certain considerations that span across all topics and actions that include funding, research needs, interagency coordination, and environmental justice and equity.

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