Make Climate Change Integral to State Policies, Report Recommends

The state needs to step up efforts to deal with the effects of climate change, a goal that might be achieved through the establishment of a statewide group to foster preparedness for the potential impacts of global warming, according to a new report…"Climate change is real; it’s happening now and it’s affecting New Jersey," said Anthony Broccoli, professor of atmospheric science at Rutgers University at a forum held at Duke Farms.

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Big Plans for NJ Water Infrastructure Will Mean Bigger Bills for Customers

With New Jersey facing an estimated $40 billion in costs over the next two or three decades to fix its aging water infrastructure, the state may need to set up a program to help lower income residents pay their escalating water and sewer bills…For poorer residents in urban areas where problems are the most pressing – underscored by seemingly weekly water main breaks in sometimes century-old water lines – the cost could be dramatic, according to Daniel Van Abs, an associate professor at Rutgers University.

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NJ’s Archaic Water System: The $40B Problem in Search of a Solution

Where the projected $40 billion needed to fix New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure is going to come from is a dilemma long recognized by the state’s policymakers and legislators. But no one has yet to offer any viable solutions…"We really don’t know what it will cost," said Daniel Van Abs, a Rutgers professor, who recently wrote a study for New Jersey Future on the problem. Many of the most pressing issues confront the state’s 21 largest cities, according to the study.

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Clean Drinking Water for New Jersey Residents Comes at Steep Price

Many of New Jersey’s 21 largest cities face, in some cases, hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to upgrade sewer systems that now pollute rivers and bays during heavy rains, according to a new report prepared by Rutgers University for New Jersey Future, a smart-growth organization. And time is running out for those communities to fix the problem…"One point is clear: With aging water infrastructure, what can go wrong at some point will, unless preemptive action is taken," said Daniel Van Abs (associate research professor in Human Ecology), the principal investigator for the study, who works at Rutgers University. "Looking the other way does not make the system work any better."

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Long-Awaited DEP Study Says PFC Contamination Widespread in State’s Water

Two-thirds of New Jersey’s public water systems tested in a statewide survey were found to contain perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which have been linked to some cancers in humans and reproductive and developmental problems in animals, according to a newly released survey from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection…Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the DEP, did not respond to a request for an explanation of why the survey was kept from public view for so long. Keith Cooper, a Rutgers University toxicologist who is the new chairman of the Drinking Water Quality Institute, which advises the DEP on water quality, said he did not know why the report had been so severely delayed.

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Water-Contamination Watchdog Restarts Work With Focus on PFCs

A panel that advises state officials on the quality of New Jersey’s drinking water met for the first time since 2010 on Tuesday, and pledged to focus its work on contamination by a class of chemicals that has been linked with cancer and developmental problems…The reconstituted 15-member panel, which includes academic scientists, government researchers, and water industry officials, will test for, treat, and assess the health effects of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), some of which have been found in New Jersey at higher concentrations than elsewhere in the United States. It will be chaired by Keith Cooper, a professor of toxicology at Rutgers University.

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Housing Advocate Claims Sandy Recovery Grants Racially Biased

Black and Latino applicants for Sandy aid in New Jersey are more likely to be rejected for recovery grants than white applicants, according to data released Thursday by a New Jersey housing advocate. The rejection rate for whites who applied for New Jersey’s two main grants for homeowners affected by Sandy was 13 to 14 percent. For Latinos, it was slightly higher – 18 to 20 percent; African Americans had the highest rejection rates at 35 to 38 percent…"I would say, in terms of disaster response, it’s the worst time for governments to really try to get [its programs] right," said Karen O’Neill, a human ecology professor at Rutgers University who’s been following the Sandy response. "Because getting it right with disadvantaged communities is a problem any day of the week for any ongoing programs, [and] these are one-time programs."

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Rutgers Conference Questions What New Jersey Learned from Sandy

More extreme storms are likely, but what has state done to safeguard people and property? How well is New Jersey coping with the lessons taught by Hurricane Sandy — a superstorm that caused at least $30 billion in damage and took the lives of 34 people? That issue surfaced repeatedly yesterday at the inaugural conference held by the newly established Rutgers Climate Institute: "Bridging the Climate Divide: Informing the Response to Hurricane Sandy and Implications for Future Vulnerability…" "Might it happen again? Yes," said David Robinson, a professor in the university’s Department of Geography and New Jersey State Climatologist. He described Sandy as a bad example of how storms in future may only get worse.

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Board of Public Utilities Hopes to Get Into Garbage in a Big Way

Each year in New Jersey more than 8 million tons of waste – yard litter, trash from residents, and livestock manure, among other debris – is thrown away in garbage dumps, burned in incinerators, or disposed of elsewhere…If tapped, those 5.4 million tons of waste could generate more than 1,124 megawatts of electricity – a larger amount than New Jersey’s highly touted solar program now generates, or the equivalent of approximately 311 million gallons of gasoline-equivalent fuel, a study by Rutgers University has suggested…In the Rutgers study, the state was urged to target resources to develop public-private partnerships to operate power and fuel plants in two to three years, according to Dave Specca, assistant director of the Rutgers EcoComplex in Bordentown.

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Revised FEMA Maps Cheered by Shore Residents, Criticized by Environmentalists

The outcry that greeted FEMA’s preliminary flood maps officially adopted by Gov. Chris Christie in the aftermath of Sandy began almost the moment they were introduced. Many residents would have to raise their homes and businesses several feet on pilings, or else pay dramatically higher flood insurance rates in the years to come, and they didn’t like what they saw…Given the absence of this data, FEMA opted to release maps based on what it acknowledged was an overly conservative, worst-case scenario. "I think there was a rush to get out some of the information that maybe wasn’t ready for primetime," says Richard Lathrop, a professor of environmental monitoring at Rutgers University.

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