As N.C. House committee members were wrapping up up their work on legislation to guide North Carolina’s position on climate change, a handful of protesters showed up Tuesday to say the state must not hide from scientific evidence on rising sea levels.
Republican Rep. Pat McElraft of Carteret County said a committee has almost finished reworking the bill that was unanimously rejected last week. She said it could be up for a vote Wednesday and that committee members are “pretty much in agreement” on how to move forward.
The new version calls for more study on how much the sea level is expected to rise by 2100 — but it does so carefully. McElraft, sponsor of the bill, said the new version will not include a projection by a state-sponsored science panel that the increase could be 3 feet. It also will not limit the state to using only historical data in calculating future trends. The additional studies will take three-to-four years, she said, and in the meantime a moratorium would be placed on using the 3-foot figure.
The bill could determine how much development is allowed and affect insurance rates on the coast.
“We are asking for more science, we are asking for legitimate science, science that didn’t just use one model out of hundreds of models out there,” McElraft said.
The sea-level discussion started after the state-appointed science panel warned sea levels could rise by more than 3 feet by 2100 and threaten more than 2,000 square miles of coastal land. The Senate rewrote HB 819, put forth by McElraft in 2011, to legislate against those scientific recommendations.
About a half dozen protesters and about as many news reporters, congregated Tuesday outside the legislative building in Raleigh. The demonstrators held signs proclaiming “You can’t hide the truth” and “Don’t put short-term profit before the safety of our coastal communities.” Duke graduate student Ethan Case brought a meter-long sign to physically represent scientists’ warnings.