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N.C. to sea level forecasters: Ignore climate change data for now

July 03, 2012|By David Zucchino
  • The North Carolina state Capitol in Raleigh.
The North Carolina state Capitol in Raleigh. (Dave Crosby / Flickr )

Scientists with a state commission in North Carolina will not be permitted to issue formal predictions of sea level rise based on climate change – at least for the next four years.

After enduring national ridicule for proposing a bill to outlaw any coastal sea level projections based on climate change data, the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature came up with a compromise Tuesday. Lawmakers effectively put the sea level debate on hold by asking for more studies – but none that involve climate change.

The compromise legislation forbids the state’s Coastal Resources Commission from making any policies based on sea level change until at least July 2016.

The state House voted 68 to 46 on Tuesday for the measure, which was approved 40 to 1 by the state Senate on Monday. A spokesman for Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue, whose vetoes of three unrelated but equally controversial bills were overridden by the Legislature this week, said she had not decided whether to veto the sea level bill.

After scientists with the coastal commission predicted sea level rises of up to 39 inches along North Carolina’s coast by 2100, business and development interests in 20 coastal counties objected. Complaining that the 39-inch projection would cost millions in regulations and restrict development, they came up their own projections – no more than an 8-inch rise by 2100.

The Legislature responded this year with a bill to essentially ban  predictions based on climate change, saying projections should be based on past patterns. That prompted ridicule from commentators, led by comedian Stephen Colbert, and condemnation from scientists.

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david.zucchino@latimes.com

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