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Wed August 6, 2014
CoastLine: Is Public Policy on Sea Level Rise Keeping up with Coastal Planning Needs?
What does sea level rise, now widely-accepted by the scientific community, mean for coastal areas in North Carolina? How concerned do we really need to be?
It was 2010 when a report on sea level rise by the Coastal Resource Commission’s Science Panel turned the topic into a lightning rod in Raleigh and across the state. A draft version of the report initially recommended that North Carolina prepare for sea levels to rise up to 55 inches – that’s more than 4 ½ feet -- by the year 2100. The report also said that a rise of 39 inches was likely.
Two years later, lawmakers passed House Bill 819 – the Coastal Management Policies Act -- which put a four-year moratorium on creating any policies related to sea level rise. The law also required sea level rise to be calculated on historical data -- not on the accelerated rates that scientists have said are the trend of the future. North Carolina’s response to the science made national news – and became fodder for a well-known comedians.
Here’s Stephen Colbert from the Colbert Report in 2012:
The Coastal Resources Commission met last week in New Bern, North Carolina. Part of the agenda: to update the report on Sea Level Rise.
There’s a great deal at stake on all fronts. Billions of dollars in investment could become virtually worthless if thousands of miles of coastal property are declared unbuildable. Such a designation could also cause insurance rates for existing property owners to spike.
But environmental advocates and supporters of a more progressive approach say that without long-term planning – infrastructure, property, and important coastal ecosystems are all at risk.
Spencer Rogers, a coastal engineer and geologist with North Carolina Sea Grant, a coastal research and education program. He’s also on the Science Panel that advises the Coastal Resources Commission.
Mike Giles: He’s worked as a wildlife biologist and enforcement officer with The National Park Service and the Army Corps of Engineers. For the last seven years, he’s been with the North Carolina Coastal Federation – an environmental advocacy group.