Tuesday, July 16, 2024

EARTH WEEK Celebrated with $15M in State – Funded New Nature-Based Infrastructure to Fight Climate Change

DEP Commissioner LaTourette Announces Blue and Green Carbon Grants to Enhance Salt Marshes, Living Shorelines, Forests and Urban Parks to Sequester Greenhouse Gases

PRESS RELEASE: NJ DEP (April 20, 2022) – As Earth Week was celebrated this year with the theme of Invest in Our Planet, the Murphy Administration is launching a new blue and green carbon grant program that will invest $15 million in projects across New Jersey that create, restore and enhance salt marshes, sea grass beds, forests and urban parks that sequester atmospheric carbon in the fight against climate change.

“Climate change is the greatest long-term threat to New Jersey’s people, communities, and economy,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “This year’s Earth Week theme of investing in our planet is reflective of our New Jersey values as we aim to set an example for the nation. Through our new Natural Climate Solution Grant Program, New Jersey proudly becomes one of the first states to invest proceeds from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auctions into natural resource restoration and enhancement projects.”

Blue and Green Carbon
“Through investments in nature-based solutions, New Jersey can keep climate pollutants from entering our atmosphere while improving the quality of our resources and beautifying our communities,” said Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette. “The climate crisis is already harming our people, communities, and economy and this new grant program will sequester carbon and help to reduce the risks of a changing climate.”

The Murphy Administration is proud to provide local governments, academic institutions, nonprofits and others with this groundbreaking opportunity to invest in our planet’s future by restoring and enhancing coastal, woodland and urban ecosystems to reduce the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

The grant program is funded through auction proceeds the state has received through RGGI, a collaboration of Mid-Atlantic and New England states that works to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. States receive auction proceeds through this cap-and-trade program to fund a variety of initiatives that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. New Jersey rejoined RGGI under Governor Murphy’s leadership in 2020.

“Natural solutions are important because they have the potential to do so much more than sequester carbon,” said DEP Associate Commissioner for Science and Policy Katrina Angarone. “Trees planted in our urban areas also help cool our cities, clean our air, provide habitat, reduce flooding and provide green spaces in highly urbanized spaces. Restored tidal wetlands provide important wildlife and fisheries habitat and can increase the resilience of our coastal areas. These projects have the potential to be a win several times over for communities on the front line of climate change.”

“Trees and wetlands serve as excellent carbon sinks, continually taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it in biomass and soils,” said John Cecil, DEP’s Assistant Commissioner for State Parks, Forests & Historic Sites. “Even though New Jersey is the most densely populated state, there are an abundance of wetlands and forests providing essential services to people and nature. The Natural Climate Solutions Grant Program affords a significant opportunity to restore, enhance and even create these natural assets so that they can help us.”

Project grant awards will range from $250,000 to $5 million. Applications will be accepted through July 13. Applicants for blue and green carbon grants should demonstrate that the projects will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing carbon storage capacity in biomass (i.e., trees and plants) and soils, will reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions caused by increasing salinity of coastal waters or changing land use, and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by preventing soil loss.

Entities that may apply are:

State, county and local government units within New Jersey, including state government agencies and school boards
State universities and colleges
Interstate agencies of which New Jersey is a member
Private landowners owning property in New Jersey (note: private property project applicants must provide matching funds)
Local nonprofit organizations
Eligible projects include those that:

Prevent erosion of carbon rich soils in littoral (nearshore zones) of the state, including tidal wetlands

Restore tidal flows to salt marshes, with a focus on increasing salinity to decrease production of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas

Increase the cover of native salt marsh vegetation in brackish and salt water tidal wetlands to sequester carbon.

Restore degraded forests or former agricultural areas with resilient native vegetation

Establish and maintain trees in urban areas while reducing impervious cover and promoting ground water recharge

The DEP will award additional application review points to projects in Overburdened Communities that have borne a disproportionate share of environmental inequities over the years.

Grant recipients will be required to document and report information depending on the type of project that is implemented. This information may include but is not limited to project area maps, land use, salinity, erosion rate, plant species, acres of vegetated marsh, acres of sub-aquatic vegetation, tree diameter and tree height.

The DEP will hold a public information session from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on May 19. To learn more about the Natural Climate Solutions Grant Program and to register for the information session, visit https://nj.gov/dep/climatechange/mitigation/ncs-grant.html