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NJDEP Releases Report on Sea-Level Rise in New Jersey

On December 12, 2019, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) released a report discussing historical sea-level rise (“SLR”) in New Jersey and estimating SLR for the next 100+ years. The Rising Seas and Changing Coastal Storms report (“Report”) was commissioned by NJDEP and prepared by Rutgers University’s New Jersey Science and Technical Advisory Panel.

The historical data provided in the Report evince New Jersey’s particular vulnerability to SLR, as SLR along its coast has consistently remained higher than the total change in the global average sea-level. For example, from 1911 to 2019, SLR along the New Jersey coast rose 17.6 inches (1.5 feet) compared to 7.6 inches (0.6 feet) globally. In addition, over the last 40 years, the average rate of SLR on the New Jersey coast was 0.2 inch/year compared to 0.1 inch/year globally.

According to the projections in the Report, it is likely that SLR in New Jersey will continue to rise but at even higher rates over the next 30 years. The Report estimates that there is, at minimum, a 66% chance that New Jersey will experience SLR of 0.5 to 1.1 foot/feet between 2000 and 2030, and 0.9 to 2.1 feet between 2000 and 2050.

Interestingly, the Report presents three different scenarios when taking into account SLR projections after 2050. The Report states that such projections “increasingly depend upon the pathway of future global greenhouse gas emissions.” Under a “high-emissions scenario, consistent with the strong, continued growth of fossil fuel consumption,” New Jersey will likely experience SLR of 1.5 to 3.5 feet between 2000 and 2070, and 2.3 to 6.3 feet between 2000 and 2100. Under a “moderate-emissions scenario, roughly consistent with current global policies,” New Jersey will likely experience SLR of 1.4 to 3.1 feet between 2000 and 2070, and 2.0 to 5.2 feet between 2000 and 2100. Under a “low-emissions scenario, consistent with the global goal of limiting to 2°C above early industrial (1850-1900) levels,” New Jersey will likely experience SLR of 1.3 to 2.7 feet between 2000 and 2070, and 1.7 to 4.0 feet between 2000 and 2100.

As stated by Governor Phil Murphy in NJDEP’s press release regarding the Report, “New Jersey is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and we must work together to be more resilient against a rising sea and future storms.”

© 2020 Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla, P.C. All Rights Reserved National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 347


About this Author

Michael J. Gross, Giordano Law Firm, Environmental Attorney
Shareholder/Managing Partner

Mike, chair of the Environmental Law Practice Area, handles all aspects of New Jersey and federal environmental law, including permitting and litigation, CAFRA, sewage disposal and water supply, wetlands, riparian (tidelands) law, solid waste, flood hazard areas, siting of energy and other industrial facilities, site remediation, Pinelands, Highlands, cultural resources, stormwater, wastewater planning, water and air pollution. He also appears before planning and zoning boards and has handled complex construction litigation matters.

Mike is...

Paul H. Schneider, Giordano Law Firm, Litigation Attorney

Paul, Chair of the Environmental & Land Use Litigation Practice Area, focuses his practice in environmental, redevelopment, land use, regulatory, real estate and affordable housing law, and litigation. He also handles a wide variety of redevelopment matters as well as corporate and commercial litigation. In addition to handling major litigation before both the state and federal courts and the Office of Administrative Law, he has extensive experience before the New Jersey Supreme Court and the Appellate Division.

Paul represents real estate developers and other businesses in all types of environmental and land use matters, including permitting and compliance in the areas of water, wetlands, waste, and air; brownfields redevelopment; site remediation; and transactional. He also represents landowners in cost recovery actions, as well as in enforcement actions brought by government or environmental groups.

Steven M. Dalton, Giordano Law Firm, Attorney, Environmental - Land Use, Environmental - Site Remediation, Land Use & Development Law ,Cannabis Law, Real Estate, Renewable Energy, Environmental Law, Land Use Law, Litigation

Steve's primary practice is in Environmental Law. He is able to utilize his background in environmental sciences to anticipate, understand and address the issues that his clients confront. Steve assists business and individual clients in state and federal environmental permitting, regulatory compliance, solid and hazardous waste remediation and redevelopment of contaminated sites, underground storage tank compliance, water and sewer rights and approvals, Tideland rights and approvals, and municipal land use matters.  Steve also assists clients with environmental aspects of real estate...