Thursday, August 12, 2010

Coastal group: 'Where do you stand, Bev?'

Gov. Bev Perdue's office has said the governor supports North Carolina's longtime ban on hardened structures along the coastline, which has helped the state avoid the mistakes of other coastal state that allow seawalls that bring erosion problems to their neighbors. Now the influential N.C. Coastal Federation is prodding Perdue to keep her public stance on seawalls, jetties and other hardened structures in mind when she appoints members to vacancies on the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission. It's the 2010 version of Jesse Helms' 1984 question to Jim Hunt: "Where do you stand, Jim?"

Todd Miller, executive director of the federation, noted in an e-mail to Perdue's staff that her new appointees or reappointed members will demonstrate whether she meant what she said. The commission meets next months and will discuss whether to revise or maintain its traditional view on seawalls. "Actions speak louder than words," wrote Miller. "It will be wonderful if the Governor makes appointments who will work to uphold her public statements in support of the state’s current prohibition on these structures on our beautiful beaches and inlets."

There's a lot going on behind the scenes. The state Senate has voted to allow exceptions to the ban on seawalls, particularly with construction of a low rock groins at coastal inlets to try to minimize natural beach erosion at places like Figure Eight Island or Ocean Isle. But the House has not voted on the issue; Speaker Joe Hackney has supported the ban on seawalls.

Last year the Coastal Resources Commission completed its review of the seawall ban. After receiving a consultant's study, the commission outlined steps it would take if the legislature authorized terminal groins, but the commission stopped short of recommending that the state change its longtime policy. One commission member seeking reappointment pushed the commission to take another look at the issue in September.

Here's Miller's e-mail to the governor's staff:

I understand that Governor Perdue may make her CRC appointments very soon. I wanted to make sure you and Al know just how very concerned we are about these appointments in case they are made before we have a chance to sit down and talk over policy issues.

I’ve attached a letter to the Governor with our recommendations for these appointments. Also, below are some emails that I’ve sent to Jackie. We talked with Jackie and Jennifer back in May about our concerns on this, and then have had two follow-up meetings with Britt as well.

These seven appointments will decide whether the majority of the fifteen CRC members support or disagree with the Governor’s position on terminal groins. One member in particular who is seeking reappointment (Renee Cahoon) is a very vocal advocate of groins. As the last item of business at the last CRC meeting in July (under new and old business late in the day), she tried to have the Commission re-consider its previous vote on the issue in an effort to have it take a pro-groin stance. The Commission’s chair (Bob Emory) stopped that discussion, but it’s now scheduled as the first Agenda item for the CRC meeting in September.

This upcoming meeting is likely to be the first one after Governor Perdue makes here seven appointments. If at this first meeting the Commission votes to support terminal groins, this huge coastal policy shift by the Commission will be placed right on the front doorstep of the Governor. Such a vote will beg the question of why did the Governor appoint people to this Commission who so publicly and aggressively disagree with her publicly held policy position on terminal groins.

This issue is major headline and editorial news throughout North Carolina. I hope the Governor is fully briefed about the direct connection between her CRC appointments and how this issue is managed by her Administration.

Actions speak louder than words. It will be wonderful if the Governor makes appointments who will work to uphold her public statements in support of the state’s current prohibition on these structures on our beautiful beaches and inlets.


Anonymous said...

I wonder how much these people pay to get on these boards?

Anne Sanders said...

If there is anything that we as citizens of NC can do to help with this; please post. I would gladly write or call anyone concerned if that would help.