Sarah Gonzalez, Reporter, WNYC/NJPR
Sarah Gonzalez is the northern New Jersey enterprise reporter for WNYC and NJPR.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today rejected the idea that state agencies like New Jersey Transit needed to prepare for climate change ahead of Sandy.
“‘Cause I don’t think there’s been any proof thus far that Sandy was caused by climate change,” he said.
At a ceremony in Lavallette, NJ, to preside over the final nail being hammered into the boardwalk, post-Sandy, WNYC/New Jersey Public Radio asked Christie about our reporting showing New Jersey Transit made multiple errors getting ready for Sandy and severe storms brought on by climate change. Had Christie done enough to prepare state agencies for climate change?
"Well, first of all, I don’t agree with the premise of your question because I don’t think there’s been any proof thus far that Sandy was caused by climate change," Christie said, as residents and officials from Lavallette clapped. "But I would absolutely expect that that’s exactly what WNYC would say, because you know liberal public radio always has an agenda. And so since I disagree with the premise of your question I don’t feel like I have to answer the rest of it.” (You can hear the full audio at the bottom of this post.)
After Sandy, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo came to a different conclusion. Two days after the storm, Cuomo said: "I think part of learning from this is the recognition that climate change is a reality, extreme weather is a reality, it is a reality that we are vulnerable."
The federal government has warned transit agencies that severe hurricanes, increased precipitation, drought, and hotter days are effects of climate change, and has advised that "climate change impacts are here and will increase in the future."
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been creating plans to respond to climate change and severe storms since 2007. Only 19 of their 8,000 rail cars were flooded during Sandy. Meanwhile, hundreds of NJ Transit’s rail cars were engulfed after being parked in areas recently declared vulnerable to flooding.
Our reporting found that the MTA had developed detailed hurricane plans.
By contrast, NJ Transit's plans were three-and-a-half pages.
Listen to Christie's full response here: