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NC Senate Passes Bill To Regulate Rising Seas

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File photo of waves breaking on the shore. (Photo by PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of waves breaking on the shore. (Photo by PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA/AFP/Getty Images)

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina senators have decided to postpone consideration of a state-sponsored science panel’s warning of rising sea levels until July 2016, calling instead for more studies.

A conference report that amended the much-debated bill to control how North Carolina prepares for climate change along its coast passed the Senate Monday night 40-1 and is awaiting a House vote.

The new version puts a temporary moratorium on the state adopting any rate of sea level change for the purpose of regulations. It calls for additional studies, again by the science panel, to be completed by 2015.

“It requires you look at spectrum of data out there, not just the data that suggest the sea level might rise” said Sen. Sponsor David Rouzer who is running for Congress.

The science panel warned sea levels could rise by more than three feet by 2100 and threaten more than 2,000 square miles of coastal land.

Many Republican legislators doubted the science behind the state-appointed panel’s recommendations and wanted a law that would limit the state to using historical data to predict future trends. Those figures, also pushed by coastal development group NC-20, used historic data to predict a much-lower projection — an 8-inch rise — by 2100. They argued that overregulation would harm the coastal economy.

The House discussed the bill late Monday night and early Tuesday morning, but postponed the vote until later Tuesday morning. If the bill passes the House, it moves on to the governor.

Comedian Stephen Colbert, who had mocked the bill, was again evoked as opponents questioned the new language.

“Does that mean the sea level will begin to rise again now that you’ve done away with that?” asked Democrat Sen. Martin Nesbitt of Buncombe County of the revised bill.

“You know, some things are far beyond our understanding,” responded Rouzer.

While the bill breezed through the Senate Monday, it hit a snag in the House that caused Bill Sponsor Republican Rep. Pat McElraft of Carteret County to ask to delay the vote until Tuesday.

Democrat Rep. Rick Glazier of Cumberland County urged House members to reject the proposal. He said the House should not try to legislate when or how the sea levels will change.

“We should let the science say what it is and let it occur as the research is done,” Glazier said. “This is a silly process. It has not gotten much better with this conference report.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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