OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Senator Vin Gopal, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, and Assemblywoman Joann Downey issued the following statement in response to the release of bill S1614 from the Senate Environment and Energy Committee:
“If the State does not contribute its share of shore protection costs, we could lose all federal funding,” said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling. “This bill increases the amount annually credited to the Shore Protection Fund to $50 million. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy showed us just how damaging these intense, powerful storms can be to the livelihoods of our residents on the shore. We need those funds to complete projects before future storms cause more erosion and property damage. If that happens, the cost of restoring and protecting the shore will go up, making any delays or underfunding a great concern to our coastal communities.”
“New Jersey has the most developed and densely populated shoreline in the country,” said Assemblywoman Downey. “The shore also is a major economic driver of our State’s economy, responsible for an incredible 7 percent of our state economy and nearly one in 10 of New Jersey’s jobs. If we fail to protect it, the costs to the state economy will go well beyond depleted beaches and broken boardwalks. This legislation will go a long way toward defending and supporting our pristine shore, and we are glad to see it advance further in the Senate.”
“There has been an upsurge of intense hurricane activity since 2004, with New Jersey suffering through several brutally destructive storms,” said Senator Gopal. “However, the state funding level for Shore Protection has remained $25 million since 1998, while changes in the federal funding formula for shore protection have only increased the burden on coastal states like ours. The federal government used to cover 65 percent of the cost of this important initiative, but the new cost-sharing formula leaves local and state taxpayers responsible for a combined 50 percent of the cost. That’s a serious burden for municipalities, which this legislation aims to alleviate.”
S1614, and its companion bill in the Assembly, A826, are also sponsored by Senator Thomas Kean, Jr., Senator Bob Andrzejczak, Assemblyman Bruce Land, Assemblyman Sean Kean, and Assemblyman Edward Thomson.