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RALEIGH – Bowing to new and overwhelming evidence from the scientific community and the powerful impacts of recent catastrophic weather events, North Carolina conservative political leaders announced today that they are willing to accept the reality of sea-level rise, while at the same time proposing a plan to deal with it.

“It does appear  that some coastal tidal patterns have started to shift slightly,” said State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. “And regardless of whether this is the result of direct intervention by the Almighty or, as I believe, over-regulation of offshore drilling which has prevented ocean floors from subsiding to their appropriate levels, it does appear it’s time to act.”

Berger went on to say that he and colleague House Speaker Thom Tillis will introduce legislation during the 2013 session of the General Assembly to be entitled the “Personal Water-Level Mitigation Choice and Responsibility Act.” Under the multi-faceted proposal, individual taxpayers would, among other things, be able to establish tax-free savings accounts in which they would be able to shelter income for future use in dealing with coastal storms and rising seas. Read More

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The Fayetteville Observer ran an interesting letter yesterday on its op-ed page.  It’s from a New Yorker named Jim Finlay who witnessed the fury of Hurricane Sandy up close and who wants to tell North Carolinians and their state legislature to think again about their nonsensical denial of science when it comes to rising ocean levels.

“You and I have much in common, even if we are separated by hundreds of miles. And this past month one of those points of congruence was highlighted dramatically: We both reside in states where the occasional hurricane is the norm.

I live along the coastline on Long Island in New York State. A few months back, I read about North Carolina’s attempt to legislate what was, and what was not, allowed in the process of planning for sea-level rise along its coast. You, of course, are well aware of the damage caused by Sandy nearly three weeks ago, but I thought I would share with you some of the things we Long Islanders are currently living through….”

Read the entire letter by clicking here.

 

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(Satire alert: Please note that, as believable as the following story may be, it is not to the author’s knowledge, true — at least at this point anyway). 

In a follow up to its bold action last spring to ban scientists from predicting a significant sea-level rise along the North Carolina coast over the the course of the 21st Century, House and Senate leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly announced early this morning that they would take further action in the coming days to ban weather “forecasts” and news “reports” related to coastal weather events. 

Speaking at a hastily arranged press event in the offices of NC20, the pro-development group that spearheaded the anti-sea level rise bill, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger both described the move as “the next logical step” in their ongoing plan to forestall the “scare tactics” of “climate and weather alarmists” who are causing North Carolinians “unnecessary worry” regarding the future of coastal communities and investments therein.

According to Tillis (pictured above), the news media coverage devoted in recent days to Hurricane Sandy (a moniker that the Speaker refused to use) was the spur to this recent action. Read More

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The Winston-Salem Journal gets it right this morning in its characterization of the recent actions of state leaders on sea-level rise:

“Plan for the worst; hope for the best.

That’s the best strategy to follow with regard to global warming, rising sea levels and development along the North Carolina coast. But our General Assembly and Gov. Bev Perdue are using a totally irresponsible approach in planning for the best and hoping that the worst doesn’t happen any time soon.”

You can read the entire editorial by clicking here.

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As noted in this space and others in recent days, Governor Perdue has decided to go out with a whimper when it comes to a group of anti-environment bills that were among the last few measures passed and sent to her by the General Assembly last month. Rather than standing up and vetoing measures she knew and understood to be counter-productive, she opted for the path of least resistance — either holding her nose and signing, or simply allowing a proposal to become law without taking any action.

The Sierra Club and other environmental advocates think she screwed up (see below).

Some observers have speculated that her actions were motivated by a fear of what conservatives might do if they were called back to Raleigh for a veto session (though General Assembly lawyer Gerry Cohen’s recent statements that such shenanigans would be illegal calls this into question). Others think it was simply politics (i.e. a fear of creating a potential distraction for Walter Dalton).

Whatever the reason, it’s a frustrating and disappointing conclusion to the summer legislative season.

Happily, at least one group of people has not given up just yet. The Asheville City Council is apparently advancing a plan to hold a local referendum on State Rep. Tim Moffitt’s ongoing effort to steal the city’s water system — an effort that was advanced somewhat by Perdue’s failure to act on this bill. Good for them. Read More