New acting DEP commissioner lists NJ’s tough environmental challenges

As the new acting commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, Shawn LaTourette has his work cut out for him: the threat from rising seas; the need for water infrastructure upgrades that come with a $30 billion price tag, and an ambitious clean-energy plan. Tackling these challenges is going to take time — and money. Can they happen fast enough to turn the tide on climate change here in New Jersey?

“We’re dealing with a lot here in New Jersey. We have a risk of sea-level rise increase that is greater than many other places on the planet, a risk of storm intensity, storm frequency, the urban heat-island effect from rising temperatures — there is a lot to prepare for and unfortunately these conditions are only going to worsen. So we need to be ready,” La Tourette said in an interview with NJ Spotlight News.

“We have so much work to do … we need to amplify and accelerate all of it,” he said. In addition to addressing “climate change first and foremost, we need to make sure we are reducing emissions everywhere we possibly can. But in addition to that, it is so important that we build our resilience and we enhance our water infrastructure.”

Lead funding for Peril and Promise is provided by Dr. P. Roy Vagelos and Diana T. Vagelos. Major support is provided by Marc Haas Foundation and Sue and Edgar Wachenheim, III.

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