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N.C. Opinions: Raleigh

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Rough seas ahead for N.C.

From an editorial Thursday in the (Raleigh) News & Observer:

For advocates of stronger environmental protection rules in North Carolina, the prospect of Republican lawmakers changing the oversight of natural resources is an uneasy one. And that’s putting it mildly.

Some worry, for instance, that Republican plans to eliminate spots on the Coastal Resources Commission for environmentalists and fishing, forestry and agriculture interests will let the foxes guard the henhouse.

Or maybe not just guard it but to fire up the grill and get the dumplings ready.

This is the government of, by and for Republicans, and the GOP leaders in the legislature believe they have a mandate from the public to straighten things out, meaning eliminate all things with the stain of “done by Democrats” on them.

The proposed changes to the CRC, which was created in 1974 as part of the Coastal Area Management Act and is under the Division of Coastal Management, are whoppers. The commission approves rules on oceanfront development, rebuilding after storms, sandbagging and even the size of decks and piers and docks.

Currently, the CRC includes appointees – all by the governor – from commercial fishing, wildlife and sport fishing and agricultural interests, along with ecologists, coastal business people, a conservationist and three at-large members.

But the changes would eliminate the fishing, wildlife, ecological, agriculture and forestry representatives. Also gone would be the position dedicated to someone with a conservation background. It’s important that development interests be represented on panels such as the CRC. But Republicans seem determined to stack the deck. This panel has worked over the years in a fairly amicable fashion, even when members strongly disagreed on certain issues. There’s no good reason to make these radical changes.

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