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Climate advocates say it's a matter of science, and justice, to make investments now in Somerset County, N.J.

Climate advocates say it's time to make investments in Somerset County, N.J. 02:06

SOMERVILLE, N.J. - Somerset County leaders and clean energy advocates stressed the urgent need for climate action Wednesday. 

CBS2's Meg Baker explains how this will protect against extreme weather events. 

Chambers Park in Somerville used to be a main hub of sports and other activities for kids and adults. Now it sits fallow and flooded. Peter's Brook constantly spills over, and the field was contaminated from a sewage overflow. 

"We're going to have to redesign the whole thing. We're going to have to deal with the, you know, overflow from the brook. We're probably going to have to raise the grades. We're going to have to do extreme drainage override," said Mayor Dennis Sullivan. 

The borough was awarded $2.5 million from the federal government to remediate the area. More is needed. 

Environmentalists are calling on the U.S. Senate to pass the $550 billion in crucial climate investment passed by the House of Representatives in November. The investments aim to cut the carbon pollution in half by 2030. 

"Climate change has caused extreme weather events in the past few years. And a lack of action is costing us not just financially to the tune of $140 billion a year, but it's also costing lives," New Jersey Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer. 

Most recently, Hurricane Ida caused unprecedented damage across the state, hitting Somerville and Manville especially hard as the Raritan River raged

"Residents lost homes, businesses, and some unfortunately lost their lives," Jaffer said. 

Leaders say more funding is needed to manage storm water runoff so small waterways like Peter's Brook are not overpowered 

"It's the river and the tides combining to push all the water to the north. And it has nowhere to go," Sullivan said. 

Communities also need incentives to turn to clean energy to reduce emissions. 

"For too long, clean energy has only been available to those with the financial resources to buy an electric vehicle or to put the solar panels on," said Brendon Shank of Solar Landscape. 

They say the climate crisis and harmful pollution falls disproportionately on some of the most vulnerable, underserved communities, and confronting it is a matter of science - and justice - that should be fully funded. 

Some micro ways individuals can make a difference is by creating a rain garden, educating kids about recycling, and planting a tree. 

Meg Baker contributed to this report. 

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