CRC revises sea-level rise policy; invites stakeholder comment
Following a series of meetings with coastal local government officials, DCM and the Coastal Resources Commission have revised the Commission’s draft sea-level rise policy in response to concerns expressed by those groups.
Some of the concerns expressed by local governments were the proposed use of one meter of sea-level rise by 2100 as a planning number for the entire N.C. coast, and the use of a sea-level gauge at Duck as the basis for establishing a baseline amount of sea-level rise for all parts of the coast. Communities expressed the opinion that separate rates of sea-level rise should be used for different parts of the coastline, or at a minimum, one rate for the northern part of the coast and one rate for the southern coast.
Several local governments also objected to a perceived blanket application of one meter of rise for permitting decisions under local CAMA land use plans.
“I think some of the language in our policy created some urgency that’s not there,” CRC chairman Bob Emory said during a recent meeting in Beaufort. “We incorporated some things in the policy that are premature.”
In response to those concerns, the CRC spent a portion of its Feb. 24 meeting discussing and revising the draft policy. Some significant changes include:
Removal of the one meter by 2100 planning benchmark, along with any proposal to require local governments to adopt a benchmark.
Rather than relying on a single tide gauge for entire coast, the CRC will ask its Science Panel to determine if it can develop regional sea-level rise estimates.
Removal of a timeline to implement the policy; instead the CRC will take as much time as needed for further development and discussion, along with plenty of opportunity for stakeholder feedback.
“The Commission’s firm intent is that the policy should reflect an educational focus, an opportunity for all of us to learn more about sea-level rise, rather than a regulatory one,” Emory said in a letter to stakeholders about the revised draft. “Commission policies, while they can lead to regulations, should not in themselves be proscriptive.”
DCM and the CRC will continue to meet with local governments to discuss sea level rise policy, and to receive feedback from interested parties.
The revised draft sea level rise policy is available on DCM’s website.