Governor Murphy Signs Law Requiring “Climate Change” Assessment for Development Projects in New Jersey

TOMS RIVER, NJ – If you plan on building in New Jersey, you better think about how that project is going to affect global climate change because the Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy just signed into law a bill that requires a climate change vulnerability assessment.  That would mean that Master Plans created by municipalities will also have to provide a “Climate Change-Related Hazard Vulnerability Assessment”.

“Today I am pleased to sign Senate Bill No. 2607 (First Reprint), which expands upon the existing requirements of the land use plan element of a municipal master plan to require all land use elements adopted or amended on or after the bill’s enactment to include a climate change-related hazard vulnerability assessment,” Murphy said. “Pursuant to the bill, the climate change-related hazard vulnerability assessment will analyze current and future threats associated with climate change-related natural hazards, including increased temperatures, drought, flooding, hurricanes, and sea-level rise.”

According to the law, the assessment also must include a build-out analysis of all future development in the municipality, as well as any threats and vulnerabilities associated with this development, and strategies to reduce the risks of climate change-related natural hazards.

“I commend the bill’s sponsors for their recognition that confronting climate change requires concerted action at all levels of government and that local mitigation and adaptation measures are critical to protecting our residents, our economy, and our way of life,” Murphy said.

The requirements of the bill will serve as an important component of New Jersey’s multi-faceted climate policy, complementing the Statewide Climate Change Resilience Strategy that the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) is developing in consultation with the Interagency Council on Climate Resilience pursuant to Executive Order No. 89 (2019), the critical regulatory reforms to be proposed by the DEP as part of NJPACT (New Jersey Protecting Against Climate Threats) under Executive Order No. 100 (2020), and the numerous climate change resilience efforts across all of our State agencies. To ensure the success of Senate Bill No. 2607 (First Reprint), DEP is already working on multiple fronts to provide consistent data, tools, programs, educational materials, and guidance to help municipalities develop complete and accurate climate risk assessments and to ensure a consistent approach throughout the State.

“The climate change-related hazard vulnerability assessment, which should be integrated with a municipality’s other land use elements in a manner that is consistent with all applicable constitutional and statutory requirements, is a critical step forward in our ongoing efforts to achieve sustainable development and mitigate climate-related hazard,” Murphy concluded. “I encourage municipalities and municipal planning boards to take advantage of DEP’s resources as they analyze and plan for climate change impacts within their communities.”