NEW BERN — The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission is looking to augment its
Science Panel on Coastal Hazards with more members for the group’s 2010 sea level rise study.
The Science Panel, which provides the CRC with scientific data and recommendations pertaining to coastal topics, was informed of this development Friday at its meeting at the New Bern-Craven County Public Library.
The panel may choose to nominate members to the expanded group and decide the number of its own members that may participate. The final appointments will be made by the CRC in July at the regular commission meeting.
The sea level rise study is scheduled for a five-year update, which is due in 2015. Bob Emory, CRC chairman, said at the meeting that since the release of the 2010 sea level rise report, in which the science panel forecast about one meter of sea level rise by 2100, he’s heard criticism from the public that the panel doesn’t consider all points of view on the issue.
Mr. Emory said while he doesn’t expect the science panel to bring naysayers – those who disavow sea level rise – onto the panel, they might consider nominating some people with opposing opinions among the extended group.
Panel member Stan Riggs was concerned about people being put in the group that are similar to “anti-evolutionists.”
“They don’t want to discuss, they don’t want to learn, they just want to kill,” he said. “They prevent progress and I for one don’t want to deal with them again.”
Panel member Steve Benton said that while there are some people like that who disagreed with the panel’s 2010 report, there are others who have done extensive scientific research. Mr. Emory said he didn’t expect the panel to nominate “advocates” of a particular platform on sea level rise, but to bring people on with acceptable scientific credentials.
The science panel discussed the scope of the five-year update to their sea level rise report. Tancred Miller, coastal policy analyst for the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, the division which houses the CRC and which enforces the rules and regulations for coastal development, said after the scope was reviewed by the CRC at its Feb. 6-7 meeting, the only changes proposed were to use the term “sea level change” instead of “sea level rise” to include the possibility of sea level dropping and to add one additional question to the update for the science panel answer.
“They (the CRC members) would like the science panel to quantify its confidence in the predictions made on sea level change,” he said.
Panel member Spencer Rogers said North Carolina is currently the only state in the country required to study sea level rise.
The science panel also discussed its charge from the CRC, in particular how members are nominated. Mike Lopazanski, DCM policy analyst manager, said the membership of the science panel has become more important due to the reaction to the panel’s work on sea level rise.
The science panel could also find itself replaced due to recent legislation introduced in the General Assembly. Senate Bill 10, currently before a House committee, would terminate all the members of the CRC if it became law. The science panel serves at the pleasure of the CRC, so a new commission could appoint an entirely new panel.
Mike Lopazanski, DCM policy manager, said the CRC’s main concern is being sure the members have the proper expertise and credentials to sit on the science panel. The commission is requesting the science panel come up with a public review process for it to determine how panel members are chosen.
“We just need something as a basis for saying ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ ” he said. “Requiring a description of qualifications, like a curriculum vitae, isn’t unreasonable to ask.”
In other news at the meeting, the panel requested the DCM provide them with updated inlet hazard area maps, or IHAs, for their meeting in the week of April 22. Matt Slagel, DCM shoreline management specialist, said the final report is due to the General Assembly by January 2015, so the CRC wants the science panel’s report ready for the commission by 2014.
“They (the CRC members) want to focus on the best method to delineate the IHAs,” he said, “is there an alternative to the IHA box and if so, what is it?”
IHAs are areas under the direct influence of channels leading into inlets. The purpose of defining these areas is to use them for developing use standards for property that’s in the IHAs.
Ken Richardson, GIS analyst for the division, said the next steps will be to continue digitizing the 2010 shoreline maps and to update erosion rates for the state. Mr. Richardson said communities have had several concerns about the proposed IHAs they’ve voiced in public comments.
Commentors have asked to know what the development policy will be set within the IHAs. They also want to know how the IHAs will affect property values, how they will affect refinancing or insurance rates and what will be the economic impact of the areas.
Mr. Rogers said his preference would be to keep the land in the IHAs unregulated and to use the 30-year risk line as a replacement for the static vegetation line for determining setbacks in the IHAs. Mr. Emory said that the first time the IHAs are presented to the public, the DCM needs to have proposed regulations for the areas ready to go with them.
Contact Mike Shutak at 726-7081, ex. 206, or by email at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @mikeccnt.