RALEIGH, N.C. — As lawmakers work on another version of a bill that controls how North Carolina prepares for climate change along the coast, protesters on Tuesday urged them not to ignore science in the process.
Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, says a committee has almost finished reworking a Senate bill that the House unanimously rejected last week.
The new version calls for more study on how much the sea level is expected to rise by 2100. McElraft says the new version will not include a projection by scientists that the increase could be more than 3 feet, nor will it limit the state to using only historical data in calculating future trends.
"We are asking for more science. We are asking for legitimate science, science that didn't use just one model out of hundreds of models," McElraft said.
The bill could determine how much development is allowed and affect insurance rates on the coast.
Protesters presented the signatures of more than 3,000 people who want lawmakers to use the scientists' estimates and not turn their backs on warnings.
"It's going to cost us much more in the end if we don't make the proper precautions now," said Cristina Benavides, a student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
The U.S. Geological Survey recently released a study that shows the East Coast from Cape Hatteras to Boston has already seen a sea level rise three to four times higher than most of the world in the past 20 years.
"I think it's absolutely ridiculous that our leaders are telling us to ignore reality, ignore evidence and embrace some illusion in order to help real estate developers make a little more money," said Nancy Sharp, a Wilmington resident.
McElraft said she believes the state shouldn't overreact to scientific predictions.
"I am protecting the economy of the coast of North Carolina as well as the ecology," she said.