Environmental groups in New Jersey have filed a legal challenge to new state regulations that they say make it easier to build in flood-prone areas.
The groups, including Environment New Jersey, Save Barnegat Bay and local residents, charge that state Department of Environmental Protection's Coastal Zone Management Act rules enacted after Superstorm Sandy allow too many buildings to be built in places that are vulnerable to future storms.
The state DEP said the groups' challenge lacks merit and that the Act's provisions "are both environmentally responsible and conducive to sound and safe coastal development," the Associated Press reported. The DEP said the rules were meant to streamline regulations while implementing environmental safeguards as New Jersey rebuilt after the 2012 storm.
"Hurricane Sandy should have been our wake-up call to realize unchecked development along our coastlines will only become costlier in the future due to sea level rise," Doug O'Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, told the AP. "Instead, DEP's finalized coastal zone rules will only greenlight more development in vulnerable coastal communities.”