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Adapting to a Changing Environment

According to the USEPA, “adaptation” refers to efforts by society or ecosystems to prepare for or adjust to future climate change.  These adjustments can be protective (i.e., guarding against negative impacts of climate change), or opportunistic (i.e., taking advantage of any beneficial effects of climate change).  Through adaptation planning, decision-makers take into consideration existing conditions as well as expected future impacts and vulnerabilities.  Adaptation decreases a system’s vulnerability or increases its resilience to impacts.

Since there are limits to the ability of both manmade and natural systems to adapt, actions to mitigate climate change (i.e. continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions) should continue.  For example, the relocation of communities or infrastructure may not be feasible in many locations, especially in the short term.  Over the long term, adaptation alone may not be sufficient to cope with all the projected impacts of climate change.  Therefore, adaptation will need to be linked with continued efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Since climate change is a global issue, regardless of how successful NJ is in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions over the long-term, there will still be unavoidable public health, ecological and economic impacts in New Jersey from the worldwide greenhouse gas emissions already in the atmosphere.  Scientists predict that in the coming years New Jersey will experience higher temperatures during the summer months that will result in an increase of heat-related illnesses, as well as poor air quality and short-term droughts, and more intense rain events, leaving residents susceptible to high flooding.  These intense rain events may also worsen the impacts of rising sea level in New Jersey’s coastal and bay shore communities.  For additional information, see the Department’s greenhouse gas emissions environmental trends report and the Rutgers Climate Institute report, “State of the Climate: New Jersey 2013”

In response to Superstorm Sandy, state departments and agencies have incorporated resiliency strategy and planning in every aspect of the recovery process in an effort to rebuild back better and more resilient than before.  Many of these initiatives will serve to make NJ more resilient to the adverse effects of future climate change.  Among the initiatives are:  beach and dune projects; acquisition of properties in repetitive flood loss areas; energy resilience at critical facilities throughout the State; and, actions to address emergency fuel highlighted during Superstorm Sandy by building resilience in fuel supply and distribution.  For more detailed information, please visit the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding website.

Photo-floodingA long-term comprehensive statewide adaptation plan needs to involve the input and action of many parties, including federal, state and local governments; non-governmental organizations, academia, private industry, and New Jersey’s citizens.  Safeguarding New Jersey’s citizens, its built and natural environment, and ensuring that the State continues to grow in a manner that is both sustainable and resilient to the adverse effects of climate change will require adaptation planning. 

Rutgers University formed the New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance.  The New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance is described as “a network of policymakers, public and private sector practitioners, academics, and NGO and business leaders designed to build climate change preparedness capacity in New Jersey.”

“The Alliance will focus on climate change preparedness in key impacted sectors (public health; watersheds, rivers and coastal communities; built infrastructure; agriculture; and natural resources).”

The ultimate goal of this initiative is to assess climate vulnerability and preparedness needs for critical sectors in New Jersey and to develop capacity for response implementation in New Jersey.

To help provide relief during emergencies, the Department of Environmental Protection developed the Petroleum Emergency Toolkit

The Petroleum Emergency Toolkit (PET) was developed following Superstorm Sandy.  The PET profile is a confidential tool designed to support government management planning and response personnel in emergencies affecting the petroleum supply chain.  The PET profile identifies the location of each facility, provides detail on each facility, and provides emergency contact information for all petroleum refineries, marine transfer facilities, storage facilities, major pipelines, petroleum distributors, heating fuel suppliers and retail gasoline stations within the state and relevant region.  The PET profile will be used with other GIS data layers, such as high resolution aerial photography, topography and storm surge projections, environmental features, jurisdictional boundaries, electric and natural gas utility service territories, and electrical substations. The PET profile provides access to state and federal orders, declarations, emergency rules and waivers (including extensions and terminations) necessary for state response to petroleum supply emergencies.

PET Profile Tool

The PET profile provides access to state and federal orders, declarations, emergency rules and waivers (including extensions and terminations) necessary for state response to petroleum supply emergencies.

Other programs that provide energy resiliency to critical infrastructure in New Jersey:

Retail Fuel Station- Energy Resilience Program

The State has awarded nearly $7 million in grants from the federal Hazard Mitigation Gran Program to more than 230 fuel stations located along key thoroughfares identified by state homeland security and emergency management personnel.  Eligible station owners used the funds to purchase generators or permanent connection points for mobile generators, also known as “quick connects.” Stations were targeted for the program based on factors including proximity to evacuation routes and fuel storage capacity. 

  • Map of Participating Stations

Energy Resilience at Critical Facilities throughout the State

A multi-agency team from the State has been collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to comprehensively study the energy needs of critical facilities throughout the State, and to identify creative and cost-effective alternative energy solutions.  In coordination with the Board of Public Utilities, NREL conducted a state-wide survey of public buildings and leveraged existing data and resources maintained by the State to inform a   locally-tailored analysis of energy resilience and efficiency for local communities.  To realize energy resilience projects, the State announced $25 million in HMGP Energy Allocations to municipalities, counties, and other critical facilities that can be used to support a variety of alternative energy solutions — including microgrids, solar power with battery back-   up, and natural gas-powered emergency generators — technologies that will allow critical facilities to operate even if the power grid fails.


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Last Updated: February 14, 2018