For Immediate Release
May 15, 2013
NC Sierra Club Statement on Senate’s Approval of S 151, Coastal Policy Reform Act of 2013
RALEIGH - Today the NC Senate gave approval to S 151, a bill that encourages the construction of terminal groins on North Carolina’s coast. Today’s vote represented a major change of direction from decades of state policy against hardened structures.
S 151 largely upends 2011 compromise legislation sponsored by Sens. Brown and Rabon. S 151 removes the cap on the number of terminal groins which can be built and drops provisions designed to ensure that local communities do not incur debt without a vote of the people. S 151 also removes fiscal protections intended to ensure that neighboring properties will be compensated for any ensuing damage. Terminal groins can cost as much as $10 million to build, and can cost up to $2 million per year to maintain.
An amendment by Sen. Stein that would have restored a provision from the 2011 legislation requiring local communities to vote before a locality could incur debt to construct jetties was debated but not voted upon. Upon a motion, the amendment was “laid upon the table” - a procedural move that prevented a recorded vote on the amendment.
“North Carolinians enjoy natural beaches that are the envy of the East Coast. This is because our state leaders have historically adopted a conservative management policy that bans hardened structures—seawalls, jetties and groins of any kind—from our ocean beaches,” said Molly Diggins, state director of the NC Sierra Club.
“Today, the Senate gutted compromise legislation passed just two years ago in order to make it easier to construct hardened structures,” added Diggins. “Today’s vote is bad for beaches, bad for taxpayers, and bad for North Carolinians who love their state’s natural beaches."
A groin is a rigid hydraulic structure built from an ocean shore that interrupts water flow and limits the movement of sediment.
The restriction on hardened structures is based on science and history, and reflects the natural processes that shape our coast—wind, waves, tides and erosion. Jetties and groins intentionally trap sand on one side. In doing so, they cause a sand deficit and increased erosion rates on the other. Coastal scientists have repeatedly gone on record voicing their opposition to terminal groins.