Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Sea Level Rise’ Category

Division of Energy and Climate in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC)

If you missed this story, Delaware has a new “climate action plan” based on dubious data which assumes more state control of private land use will somehow save us from “man-caused climate change”. Below is our response.

For the most part, the state’s new climate plan could have been titled “Let’s Plan for the Storm of the Century”, a basically sound idea. Unfortunately, the plan also promotes a continuing un-Constitutional effort of the state to take over land use planning from the counties and municipalities. It also promotes the concept there will be catastrophic impacts from global warming which some key state leaders follow with religious like fervor. The facts show no upward trend in global average temperatures for the last eighteen years, and point to modest impacts on our environment from global warming.

Recent lawsuits have upheld local control of land use issues, as delegated by the Delaware Constitution, by over turning state attempts to write land use regulations. The state Strategic Planning Office must approve local land use plans as it relates to state funded infrastructure such as highways. Some key goals of the climate plan are directed at influencing land use planning. The office is adding a request local land use plans consider climate change, and will enforce it by weighing infrastructure investment in favor of localities that include climate considerations that conform to the state plan.

Additionally, DNREC will specifically use their excessive estimates of global warming induced sea level rise estimates and increased rainfall estimates to push for more control over storm water management (an issue already involved in a lawsuit), shoreline management, beach replenishment, and expanded tidal wetlands maps. DELDOT will use the presumption of more temperature influenced high ozone days to consider driving restrictions during air quality events. DEDO will encourage real estate agents to spread out weekly beach rentals to different start dates, an idea which has some merit but will be disruptive to the tourist industry. It should be noted all of these efforts will likely lead to higher cost for private industry.

The climate plan forecasts sea level rise from greenhouse gas induced global warming at 1.5 to 5 feet by 2100, and used three feet to develop Flood Risk Adaptation Maps which will be used for state planning purposes. Meanwhile, the report also quotes the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration estimates of only 1.1 feet of sea level rise by 2100, including about half that amount from localized land subsidence at the Lewes Tide Gauge, an amount roughly equal to sea level rise that occurred during the twentieth century. Most of the state is not subsiding, and land height actually increases for estuaries from deposition of sediments from upstream erosion. A realistic expectation is about six inches of sea level rise by 2100.

The plan also assumes rainfall will increase during major storms because of global warming. Even the UN climate change report admits no linkage has been confirmed between global warming and storm intensity.

The state wants to abandon the use of Federal Emergency Management Agency hundred year Flood Insurance Rate Maps which look at historic trends and current flood plain data. The complaint is these maps don’t forecast future trends. We submit the FEMA maps are updated frequently enough to be used for infrastructure planning over the likely lifespan of most infrastructure projects. The use of DNREC’s Flood Risk Adaptation Maps uses questionable forecasts and will result in un-needed additional expense for both the state and private interests. The expanded wetland maps will take a large amount of private land without compensation.

Climate change estimates will be used to force a review of electric rates by the Public Service Commission which could lead to higher rates. The Department of Health & Human Services wants to increase low-income fuel assistance even though higher average temperatures would have a net impact of lowering utility bills as much more money is spent on heating then on cooling. Every state agency has an action step in the plan to increase education of the reality and impacts of catastrophic climate change, an effort some would call propaganda.

Finally, the state has adopted a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 30% by 2030 from a 2008 base year. The plan admits carbon dioxide emissions were already reduce by 25% by 2010 and so is looking for an additional 5% reduction from new initiatives by 2030. Appendix C of the plan provides the key assumptions used in developing emission forecasts. The plan used the U.S. Energy Information Agency 2009 forecast which assumed carbon dioxide emissions would increase 0.7% a year to 2030. The more recent EIA 2014 forecast assumes emissions will decrease by 0.2% a year. Based on the more recent forecast, the 30% reduction target will be met without any new initiatives needed.

The legislature, and all Delaware citizens, should question any legislation, budget, or regulatory changes driven by the “Climate Framework for Delaware”.

Dave T. Stevenson, Policy Director

Center for Energy Competitiveness

Caesar Rodney Institute

                                              

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Earlier this week Secretary of State John Kerry took it upon himself to criticize “shoddy scientists” and “extreme ideologues” who are denying the “unequivocal science” and “[T]hose who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand. We don’t have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society.”
 
Some of these “shoddy scientists” include the former state climatologist David Legates and Smithsonian astrophysicist Willie Soon (video presentations of there science can be seen HERE and HERE. Both have earned their credentials in the field, yet if they deny the “settled science” in any manner as determined by Secretary Kerry then they are “ideologues” and must be silenced. If groups like CRI say the science is being misused to advance a political agenda, we are “the fringe”. Yet somehow this “fringe” contains nearly half of the US adult population-at least of those registered to vote who do not believe the government needs to expand its power to keep us safe from ourselves.
Click HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE to see scientific information from CRI on this issue. In the case of Delaware, we see the same verbal grenades as those lobbed by Senator Kerry, from our own Governor and DNREC Secretary Colin O’Mara. Gov. Markell issued an executive order last year requiring all state agencies to consider Sea Level Rise when planning or developing any projects. DNREC is going further and is prepared to issue its on regulations on SLR, mainly to discourage, or even redo, development along the ocean from Lewes down to Fenwick Island, and even inland past the bays. All three counties will suffer property value loss if/when DNREC goes ahead with the recommendations of its own committee and requires property owners in the “flood zones” to purchase their own flood insurance and label their properties as being in a flood zone, which will drive their value down. This is not a coincidence; in the mind of O’Mara he is merely using “science” to “protect you” from your own bad decision. 
The reality is Delaware IS going to suffer some SLR. This is because the state is sinking into the ocean and Delaware Bay due to natural erosion processes  and someday parts or all of Delaware’s beaches may be underwater, and new beaches in other locations will replaces them . But no government regulations on your behavior or new taxes on your production will “save” you from natural erosion. Dr. Legates, who has studied this issue, recommends the state build sand dunes to prevent erosion of the soil near population areas.
The environment is complex and it is something which matters to all of us. But for  Secretary Kerry, Governor Markell, and Sec. O’mara to denigrate anyone who disagrees with their opinion is foolish, especially since they are misguided on this issue.

Read Full Post »

Whether you celebrate Christmas or another holiday this season, we wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, and a joyous New Year!

In the final post for the year 2013 we conclude our series of recapping what the Sea Level Rise Advisory:

“Any strategic plan about options to prepare a state for sea level rise must consider…the need for public investment and resources essential to the plan,” wrote one individual involved in the SLR process. Other requests include “broad-based revenue raising” (i.e. all Delawareans will be subject to some sort of tax or fee, someway, somehow). “Continued research, relevant capital, and infrastructure investments.”

“The Committee’s choice to characterize its deliberations and work on Sea Level Rise adaptations as ‘options’ for ‘potential’ inclusion into a state adaption plan…feeds into a public perception that the Committee’s work might be more of an academic exercise than a serious endeavor to move forward. To me it…makes it easier for decision-makers, including elected officials, to ‘opt out’ or play down action oriented strategies. programs, policies, and the necessary investments to investing required public funds.”

The author does not want to “encourage”  SLR preparatory planning. Rather, he/she wants Executive orders from the Governor to require SLR planning (p.72)

_______________________________________________________
“Passive Solar heating and cooling can save 50% of (sic) the cost of heating and cooling from a building. It is required by law for California.  The Legislature needs to copy this law for Delaware.” The author of this letter proposes going back to a 1990 EPA proposal to require companies with over 100 employees a a site to reduce the number of cars at the site;  ideas include requiring carpooling and charging employees for parking.

“The only real solution to shoreline erosion is to retreat, as has occurred for nearly 400 years of settlement of Delaware.” Ban beach replenishment and federal flood insurance, since “taxpayers put up $3 for every $1 that the homeowner puts up”. (p.78).

Pages 80-88 were blacked out. No idea what was in them; an attempt to obtain those pages will be made. The same is true of pages 121-122.

The League of Women Voters in Delaware are on record supporting the SLR planning agenda.  “Require SLR be considered in public and private sector regional planning.”

“Develop a statewide retreat plan and update it periodically.”

Their letter talks about “Transfer of Development Rights”-this is when landowners are incentivized to not develop their land. In terms of environmentalism, this means to steer land development away from rural areas or areas with natural resources.  As an example, suppose you own farmland in one of the “endangered” zones. You would agree to sell the rights to development to one of the “good” groups, say the Sierra Club, for example. You would still legally own the land, but not the rights to develop the land. The Sierra Club would own those rights. Given their track record of being against nearly all development of any kind, basically what you have agreed to do is to receive payment in exchange for stopping further development or unapproved use of your land. This is one way anti-growth people and organizations have proposed to halt future development-rather than use  the rule of law to halt you, they convince you to stop development, and give you some money as a bonus for your troubles.

What do they recommend the state do to combat this “crisis”?

1. Consider a “coastal security tax”-

2. increase taxes on hotels, motels, and “weekend” (also monthly and seasonal) homes and apartments.

3. increase real estate transfer taxes and building permit fees for coastal building properties and homes.

4. Carbon tax-$2 per ton of CO2, increased as costs from “recovering from storms” increases.

5. Add a surcharge to Route 1 traffic; the surcharge would pay for changes to transportation and roads due to SLR.

6. Require realtors to disclose the “risks” of SLR in Delaware. It says the state, not even just the coastal areas.

7. Set up a database, via the Insurance Commisioners’s office, with up to date info on storm and flood insurance availability and costs from both private and public sources.

8. “Social justice”-have equal redistribution of reimbursement resources for all residents affected by SLR, regardless of any factors.

A group called Dover Interfaith Power & Light is also mentioned, also supporting the conclusions of the Advisory Committee. Highlights:

-they want to, by the 8th grade, teach students the “underlying science and history of weather, climate, SLR, and coastal storms.” We can speculate how the information will be taught and how many viewpoints would be presented to the students.

-they agreed with all  of the LWV proposals listed above

This group believes SLR is being underestimated-will be more than 1.5 meters, and melting ice caps will continue for at least 1000 years. At current fossil fuel use trends, Delaware will be mostly underwater in a few centuries.

__________________________________________

The final respondent to the survey accused the scientists behind the original 57 inch SLR projection of “scientifically unsubstantiated claims” and asked the government to not “meddle and promote a counterproductive agenda.” The author calls for letting private investment “take responsibility for purchasing low lying land”.

“Since DNREC and the EPA don’t really know ‘best’, let industries and businesses develop their own coping plans if and when such become necessary.”

The author concludes his/her criticism of the government by saying that “property rights were being eroded” and that SLR appeared to be the “new public crisis.”

135 pages of documentation from the state on SLR reveals a truth we long suspected but only now is being confirmed: those who believe that humans are the primary factors behind global warming, who believe the Arctic ice has melted, and who believe the melting ice caps will cause a large amount of flooding, are going to insist the state begin a multifaceted campaign to counter SLR, including retreating from the shores, raising taxes on individuals, businesses, property owners, and land developers who live near the shore, and asking the state to further regulate different aspects of land use from building permits to septic tanks.

Many of these people have no problem with requiring others to do things against their will and do not want to have any opposing viewpoints presented. The fact that the state hired Dr. Katharine Hayhoe to provide alarmist predictions about the future of Delaware’s weather shows the state wants to consider  future punitive action against those who are “over-developing” by the shore. They use the worst-case scenarios not merely as a possibility but as a likelihood when planning for SLR. Stricter energy mandates and carbon taxes will be the wave of the future in Delaware if not challenged.

Read Full Post »

Just yesterday the Sea Level Rise (SLR) Advisory Committee came out with its updated report, suggesting Delaware could have between 1.6-4.9 feet of sea level rise on Delaware’s shores by the end of this century. At those predictions most of Sussex and eastern Kent County will be underwater. Needless to say, the amount of flooding “expected” will impact property owners and businesspeople downstate. Here are some of the comments submitted by the committee. Ones of particular note are in bold.

“Sussex County seems to be extremely backwards, with little ideas about science”

“Sussex County Council is an ignorant bunch. The Council… has never met a developer it doesn’t like”.

“Wait to see what happens” and “How will you implement retreat?” and “How much brainwashing do we need?” (thoughts on who would have said this)
Very Worried about insurance, both homeowner policy and FEMA”

“Local communities are essential in supporting anything you (state government) try to do. Getting them to support any initiatives is key.”

“SLR Statements included in all property sales/leases.”

“Signage in high risk areas and outreach!”

“1% hotel tax on tourism. Carbon tax is most fair.”

“Make sure someone from Sussex County Tourism is on the Advisory Committee…to combat the tears that will emerge from this discussion.”

“Giving DNREC authority to regulate development with a 100 year flood plan”

“New authority for DNREC to…manage…new lands”

“Developers should pay through permit/consultation fees”

“Provide timely consultation, set permit fees high enough especially for business/developers to sustain program.”

“I do not see much private sector involvement”

“This (SLR) seems like an insurable risk. Can a public insurance pool be set up, funded from land taxes and development permits?”

“To whom does the SLR committee report (good question)? I suggest either the governor or the committee of the state legislature.”

one committeemenber proposed a package of tax increases with more local control over how SLR actions are handled and paid for.

“We need to restrict development in sensitive areas before they start,

“I think it is only honest and fair to warn new homebuyer’s of the property’s potential future vulnerability. The potential future risk of sea level rise should be disclosed in the Delaware seller’s disclosure of real property condition report.”

“SLR predictions should be figured into…business development plans.”

“prohibit development in areas that will be flooding with SLR.”

“providing as much technical resources to businesses, industries. Land management is a critical role for the state.”

“I don’t believe public money should be used for replenishment of private beaches.”

One partially illegible comment suggested better engineering of dikes.

“Partnerships with consultants should be included. Consultants offer a wealth of expertise.”

“Most presentations suggest SLR is coming or just arrived.  Show people what damage it has caused over the past 100 years.”

“County ordinances which take care of land use in unincorporated areas.”

“Provide SLR planning to local governments…especially target Wilmington.”

“It would be helpful to have a cost estimate: Abandon, buyout, move. With some rough dollar number for the extreme we can evaluate other plans.”

The question is, what does all of this mean? From these statements, which are full quotes from unidentified names (blacked out in the document), there is a pattern which emerges: the government, possibly DNREC, should be allowed to levy taxes on landowners and land developers in Sussex County to pay for the sea level rise actions. Landowners in all three counties, but especially in Sussex and parts of Kent, will need to advise potential buyers that the property is in a “flood zone”-and the government should have the ability to either tell the potential buyers or make the landowners do so. The next step then is to decide how badly “SLR” will “devastate” Delaware’s shoreline.

Next week we will show more information obtained from these documents and explain what it means to you.

Read Full Post »