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It may be mid-summer, and the Outer Banks may evoke memories of beaches, lighthouses, and wild horses, but UNC journalist and educator Sara Peach reminds us in this must-read National Geographic multimedia essay (photos, videos and maps) that memories could be all that remain in a few short years.

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Among the scientists Peach interviewed is East Carolina coastal geologist Stanley Riggs, who contributed to a controversial report warning that “North Carolina could face 39 inches (1 meter) of sea-level rise by 2100, as glaciers melt and ocean waters warm and expand.”

As she describes, that report got a chilly reception from state lawmakers:

The report prompted a backlash from coastal developers and climate skeptics—and in 2012, from the state. Lawmakers in Raleigh considered a bill that would have prohibited state agencies from planning for accelerated sea-level rise.

Environmentalists were outraged, bloggers snickered, and even comedian Stephen Colbert weighed in: “If your science gives you a result you don’t like, pass a law saying the result is illegal,” he joked. “Problem solved.”

Eventually, the state settled on a watered-down version of the law: a four-year moratorium on sea-level regulations, and an order for a new scientific study of sea-level rise, due out in 2015. In May, a state commission asked the science panel to limit its next sea-level forecast to 30 years.

The irony of the whole argument, Riggs says, is that the coast as we know it is already vanishing. “Sea-level rise and storms are taking out eastern North Carolina today—not a hundred years from now. They’re doing it today,” he says.

For more on the problems with erosion on the Outer Banks and the related access issues, read here.

 

 

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Bonner-BridgeICYMI, be sure to check out the op-ed in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer by Derb Carter, the Director of the North Carolina office of Southern Environmental Law Center. In it, Carter explains yet again why the longer Bonner Bridge replacement championed by his organization is by far the more responsible option — both in terms of protecting the environment and protecting taxpayers.

As Carter notes, it’s a classic “pay me now or pay me later” scenario: pay upfront for a stable  and lasting bridge that will be sheltered from storms and avoid the fast-eroding part of Hatteras Island or rely on a constantly changing set of patchwork “solutions” that are based upon repeatedly repairing roads and reclaiming land swallowed by the sea.

Isn’t it interesting that yet again, the sober, hard-headed, fiscally responsible solution is being advanced by so-called “liberals” whilst the dreamy-eyed, hope-for-the-best-and-improvise plan is being put forth by so-called “conservatives”?

You can read Carter’s essay by clicking here.

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Mark CreechAs explained in some detail in this morning’s Weekly Briefing, the McCrory administration has been playing some serious hardball with respect the Bonner Bridge controversy. Today, however, we learned of another critic of the North Carolina environmental advocacy community with even more and powerful political tools at his/her disposal: God.

According to the Rev. Mark Creech,  the Executive Director of North Carolina’s Christian Action League (that’s him on the left – Creech, not God), those who side with environmental groups in favor of a longer and more sustainable bridge to replace the existing Bonner Bridge are acting counter to the Divine Plan. Creech said the following in an article that he authored and that was recently published in, among other places, the Christian Post:

“Most people in North Carolina and the nation have been deeply impacted by a cultural Christian worldview, even though they may not know or acknowledge it. The Book of Genesis teaches that mankind is to ‘[b]e fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion…over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). Read More

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As noted in this space last week, conservative state officials have been acting more like loud-mouthed radio squawkers than public leaders in recent days when it comes to the controversy over the decaying Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks.

This morning’s N.C. League of Conservation Voters newsletter has a response worth reading:

“What do you do when you’re stalled in the courts on a major transportation project? If you’re Governor Pat McCrory, you launch a personal attack against the citizen conservation group that’s challenging you. Read More

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Anthony TataWhen will the members of the McCrory administration learn? It may be a lot to ask, but at some point, could someone please give these folks a lesson in acting like public servants instead of thin-skinned, right-wing talk show squawkers?

Check out the statement provided by Secretary of Transportation Anthony Tata to Raleigh’s News & Observer regarding the dedicated folks at the Southern Environmental Law Center and their longstanding involvement in the controversy surrounding the replacement for the decaying Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks:

“These ivory tower elitists file these lawsuits from their air-conditioned offices in Chapel Hill. And they do so with their lattes and their contempt, and chuckle while the good people of the Outer Banks are fighting hard to scratch out a living here based on tourism and based on access.”

Wow. Who knew that the Secretary — a man who raked in a cool quarter-million bucks in severance from an underfunded public school system and who, no doubt, gets a public pension as well on top of his $135,000 per year gig at DOT and who resides in a tony, big bucks subdivision in one of North Carolina’s wealthiest cities just down the road from several upscale latte establishments — was such man of the people?

Somewhere,  Spiro Agnew, Joe McCarthy and George Wallace are smiling.