Beach News

Overview


Beach News is a courtesy service provided by the Carteret County Shore Protection Office that furnishes on-line news relevant to the beaches of North Carolina with special emphasis to Carteret County.  Please visit http://www.carteretcountync.gov/list.aspx if you wish to be added to or removed from the "Beach News" distribution list.   Recent "Beach News" is provided below.


BEACH NEWS for 2017

NCBIWA - NC Coastal Local Governments  Annual Meeting
April 3 & 4, 2017
Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head

AGENDA - "CLICK HERE"

3/22/17
Carteret County Beach Commission Meeting Agenda
March 27, 2017; Pine Knoll Shores Town Hall, 2 pm
http://www.carteretcountync.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_03272017-915 

Norfolk Prepares For Battle With Rising Sea Level
http://wunc.org/post/norfolk-prepares-battle-rising-sea-level#stream/0

Freeman Park zones set to close this spring due to dredging
http://portcitydaily.com/2017/03/21/freeman-park-zones-set-to-close-this-spring-due-to-dredging/ 

Bumblebee listing buzzes by Trump reg freeze
Corbin Hiar, E&E News reporter, March 21, 2017
The Fish and Wildlife Service today quietly added a wide-ranging insect to the endangered species list.  The rusty patched bumblebee listing was finalized in early January, but it was prevented from taking effect by a 60-day freeze on new regulations that President Trump imposed on his first day in office (E&E Daily, Jan. 23).  That executive order pushed back the effective date of the listing until today, FWS announced in a Federal Register notice Feb. 10 — the day the bee was originally supposed to receive Endangered Species Act protections.  No additional announcements were made about the listing today by the Trump administration.
Pesticides, habitat loss, climate change and disease spread from commercial honeybee colonies have put the species on the brink of extinction, according to FWS. The rusty patched bee lives in scattered populations in 12 states and one Canadian province, covering just 8 percent of its historical range.  Now the pollinator is the first federally protected bee in the continental United States. The rusty patched bee's endangered status makes it a crime to knowingly harass or kill the insect, which as of 20 years ago could be found in 28 Eastern and Midwestern states and Washington, D.C.
The agriculture, energy, timber, and commercial and residential development industries have long feared the economic impacts of protections for the bee (Greenwire, Sept. 18, 2015).  FWS didn't calculate those costs when it proposed listing the species last year but said they would be estimated when the agency issues a recovery plan for the bee (Greenwire, Sept. 22, 2016).  Those costs — which could be substantial — are likely to count toward a separate executive order calling for agencies to prevent adding new regulatory burdens in fiscal 2017.  The order may also require FWS or its parent agency, the Interior Department, to repeal at least two existing regulations to offset the listing rule (Greenwire, Feb. 2).
Interior didn't directly respond to a question about the implications of the deregulatory executive order but said the regulatory freeze order probably didn't significantly harm the bee.  "Fish and Wildlife Service scientists have noted that the brief delay is not expected to have an impact on the conservation of the species since FWS is still developing a recovery plan to guide efforts to bring this species back to what they believe is a healthy and secure condition," spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a statement. "The Department will work with stakeholders to ensure collaborative conservation among landowners, farmers, industry, and developers in the areas where the species is native."  Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, which along with the Natural Resources Defense Council sued FWS in 2014 to speed consideration of protections for the bee, celebrated the long-awaited listing rule taking effect.  "We are thrilled to see one of North America's most endangered species receive the protection it needs," said Sarina Jepsen, director of endangered species at the Xerces Society. "Now that the Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the rusty patched bumblebee as endangered, it stands a chance of surviving the many threats it faces — from the use of neonicotinoid pesticides to diseases."  The only other bees protected by FWS are seven species found only in Hawaii, which were declared endangered last year (Greenwire, Sept. 29, 2016).


3/21/17
Flood maps put downtown housing program on hold
http://www.jdnews.com/news/20170321/flood-maps-put-downtown-housing-program-on-hold 

FEMA's updated flood map for Charleston County shows a smaller high-risk flood zone
http://www.postandcourier.com/charleston_sc/fema-s-updated-flood-map-for-charleston-county-shows-a/article_91af83b8-0d96-11e7-bf2d-2b1af90d1fe8.html 

Senator Tillis, state senators promise an investment in our coast
http://www.wect.com/story/34942376/senator-tillis-state-senators-promise-an-investment-in-our-coast

Developer seeks state permit for Capt. Sam's Spit beach restoration on Kiawah Island
http://www.postandcourier.com/news/developer-seeks-state-permit-for-capt-sam-s-spit-beach/article_3ef49d3c-0d84-11e7-b3c3-9be6ca33d798.html 

New permit program in place for ORV users at Cape Lookout National Seashore
http://www.jdnews.com/news/20170321/new-permit-program-in-place-for-orv-users-at-cape-lookout-national-seashore 

PUBLIC NOTICE - The Wilmington District, Corps of Engineers (Corps) received an application from the United States Coast Guard seeking Department of the Army authorization to modify an existing authorization in order to conduct new dredging within the existing mooring basin, associated with the US Coast Guard Sector Field Office at Fort Macon, in Carteret County, North Carolina.
http://www.saw.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory-Permit-Program/Public-Notices/article-view-display/Article/1123587/saw-2005-00748/


3/20/17
Oak Island weighs beach funding options
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170318/oak-island-weighs-beach-funding-options

Legislation would allow half-cent tax on prepared meals to support beach, waterfront needs
http://stateportpilot.com/news/article_7ddec9c4-0b35-11e7-99d8-93d28fd14293.html

Listen to science about shoreline protection
http://www.islandpacket.com/opinion/editorials/article138864833.html 

Park Service Invites Public to Weigh In on Plan
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/03/park-service-invites-public-weigh-plan/ 

3/17/17
Federal regulation could impact coastal beaches
http://wnct.com/2017/03/15/federal-regulation-could-impact-coastal-beaches/

A Threat by Any Other Name
http://www.slate.com/articles/business/metropolis/2017/03/cities_are_throwing_out_climate_change_in_favor_of_resilience.html

A Primer on the Buxton Beach Nourishment Project
http://hatterasdesigns.net/PivotBlog/?e=417 

NPS initiates program for ORV users
http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/article_5bd0f96a-0a5e-11e7-8d06-3b98781c462c.html 

North Myrtle Beach gets $10 million to repair damaged beachfront
http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/local/article139105403.html 

Avangrid Renewables wins bid for Kitty Hawk offshore wind farm lease
http://pilotonline.com/news/local/environment/avangrid-renewables-wins-bid-for-kitty-hawk-offshore-wind-farm/article_e43bb753-817b-5c01-88e3-1f919759d59b.html 

Operator of Pasquotank wind farm wins offshore lease bidding
https://outerbanksvoice.com/2017/03/16/operator-of-pasquotank-wind-farm-wins-offshore-lease-bidding/ 

Kitty Hawk wind farm lease awarded to Avangrid Renewables
http://www.obsentinel.com/news/kitty-hawk-wind-farm-lease-awarded-to-avangrid-renewables/article_f522093a-0a98-11e7-96a7-53dab7252c5c.html

Bill would allow for more oil and gas lease sales
Emily Yehle, E&E News reporter, March 17, 2017
The Interior Department would be able to add oil and gas lease sales to its existing five-year plan under a new bill from Louisiana senators.  Sens. Bill Cassidy (R) and John Kennedy (R) joined North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R) in introducing the "Unleashing American Energy Act." S. 665 would hand Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke a shortcut to change a leasing plan that took years for the Obama administration to finalize.  The current plan does not include Arctic and Atlantic leases, limiting new sales to the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska's Cook Inlet until 2022 (Greenwire, Nov. 18, 2016). Under the new bill, Zinke could reverse that, according to the senators.  "The restrictions that have been placed on our energy sector from the previous administration have stunted our economy and cost us thousands of good paying jobs," Kennedy said in a statement. "This bill will provide more job opportunities for hardworking Americans and will help our country realize our goal of energy independence."  The bill would not reverse withdrawals President Obama made under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Those withdrawals — comprising most Arctic waters and some areas in the Atlantic Ocean — were made under an obscure provision in an attempt to permanently remove them from oil and gas leasing (E&E News PM, Dec. 20, 2016).


Cuts could complicate flood insurance reauthorization
Ariel Wittenberg, E&E News reporter, March 17, 2017
House lawmakers yesterday grappled with how proposed spending cuts to flood mapping might affect their reauthorization of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Flood Insurance Program.  The Trump administration is pushing to zero out discretionary funding for the flood hazard mapping program as part of its "skinny budget" released yesterday.  The White House justified the $190 million reduction by arguing that government services should not be "subsidized by taxpayers who do not directly benefit" from the program.  The budget request would also cut funding for the Army Corps of Engineers by $1 billion. The proposal did not specify whether those cuts would affect the agency's flood control programs.  "It is extremely disappointing to see the president's budget would eliminate discretionary funding for mapping," Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), ranking member of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, said during a hearing.  "If anything," said Cleaver, "we should be increasing the budget for that."  Chad Berginnis, executive director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers, agreed, saying the cuts would be "devastating" to the program.  "Mapping is the cornerstone of everything else NFIP does," he said. "It impacts mitigation, land use, insurance, everything."  Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) asked Berginnis whether the cut would hurt NFIP and private insurers' "ability to properly assess risk and discourage building where it is particularly dangerous."  Berginnis replied: "It would degrade that capability significantly. That degradation will increase over time as the maps get older."  The Trump administration proposal comes as Congress races to reauthorize NFIP, which expires in September. Lawmakers have already introduced a number of bills to reform the program.  One of them would require communities to better map the locations of repeatedly flooded properties. Another would require the Government Accountability Office to ensure NFIP uses accurate mapping. Those bills have bipartisan backing.
More private insurance
Currently, federal spending and NFIP fees help pay for mapping efforts. Federal policy fees also help pay for flood mitigation and technical assistance programs.  During the hearing, Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) expressed concern that allowing further privatization of the flood insurance market would reduce funds for mapping and other services. Private companies do not contribute.  She asked, "If we see private insurers take market shares from NFIP and then the proposed budget cuts to FEMA materialize, what will happen to mapping in this scenario?"  Evan Hecht, CEO of a company called the Flood Insurance Agency, said he would support private insurers instituting a similar fee on their policies to help support mapping.  "We are going to use independent mapping but also have to use your mapping, so I am a big supporter of our participation in your effort," he said.  Republican members of the panel argued that private companies would be a boon to the insurance market. Further privatization is a key point of contention in the NFIP reauthorization talks.  Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), who is sponsoring a bill to increase privatization, said he thought the legislation "would help consumers and show that this Congress wants a flood insurance market that is affordable and accessible to all consumers."  Hecht tried to quell concerns from lawmakers that allowing more privatization in the flood insurance market would lead to increased rates.  He argued that most of the 18,500 policies his company has taken on would be subsidized under FEMA, thereby saving NFIP money.  "While it is understandable that some might believe the private market would only want to write FEMA's best risks and leave all the poor risks to NFIP, almost exactly the opposite is taking place," he said.  Rep. Dave Trott (R-Mich.) told Hecht that his comments "give me confidence that the private sector can fill the void."  But Hecht qualified his words, saying severe repetitive loss properties, which account for 2 percent of NFIP policies but 24 percent of claims, could not receive competitive rates on the private market. "Of course we would not want to write severe repetitive loss properties at rates that are competitive with FEMA because FEMA charges much too little for those properties," he said. "The rate of those properties have to be coincident with risk."

3/16/17
Corps OKs Ocean Isle’s Terminal Groin Plan
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/03/corps-oks-ocean-isles-terminal-groin-plan/

Dredge work awaits signed Hatteras Inlet agreement
http://islandfreepress.org/2017Archives/03.14.2017-DredgeWorkAwaitsSignedHatterasInletAgreement.html 

Interior set to auction N.C.'s first offshore wind farm
Daniel Cusick, E&E News reporter, March 15, 2017
The Trump administration will broker its first offshore wind energy deal this week as the Interior Department auctions development rights to 122,400 acres of the Atlantic Ocean near North Carolina's Outer Banks.  The Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area, covering 191 square miles of outer continental shelf roughly 24 miles from the beaches where the Wright brothers achieved first powered flight in 1903, has an opening bid price of $244,810, or $2 per acre.  For a business-minded administration committed to an "America first" energy policy, the sale could come as a welcome exercise in government-supported free-market competition. As many as a half-dozen firms are expected to participate in the auction, including some of the world's largest energy firms.  "While it appears President Trump's energy policy is still being worked out, his ambitious economic and job-growth agenda would undoubtedly be strengthened by a robust all-of-the-above energy approach, which would include a strong U.S. offshore wind program," Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, said in a statement. "This is clearly a growing market, which should only grow stronger as technology and infrastructure develops."
Wind energy areas in N.C.
Evidence of offshore wind's promise can be found in the most recent lease sale held by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for a 79,000-acre parcel off New York's coast. Statoil ASA, the Norwegian energy conglomerate, paid a record $42.5 million, or $535 per acre, for rights to explore and possibly develop the New York lease area (Energywire, Dec. 19, 2016).  But it remains unclear whether the Kitty Hawk site, which has been studied for nearly a decade, will draw similarly strong interest.  Key questions facing the site involve the economic viability of offshore wind power in a market like the Carolinas, where coal, gas and nuclear power remain cost-competitive and renewables account for just a small fraction of total generation.  Three of the initial nine companies that qualified to bid in the auction have since pulled out, including Shell WindEnergy Inc. of Houston, Apex Clean Energy of Virginia and Toronto-based Northland Power Inc.  "There are excellent winds off the North Carolina coast and lots of shallow water that extends way offshore," said Catherine Bowes, director of the National Wildlife Foundation's Atlantic Offshore Wind Campaign. "What North Carolina doesn't have is a viable state market for selling offshore wind power, at least for now.  "But that's almost certain to change," Bowes added, "and smart businesses know how to get in on the ground floor and wait for that market to develop."
Trump officials remain noncommittal
There is also uncertainty about the Trump administration's disposition toward wind power, which the president himself has derided as an unsightly, bird-killing technology, even as wind has solidified its place as the nation's leading source of commercial-scale, emissions-free electricity.  Since taking office, Trump and his surrogates have said little about where federal renewable energy policy is headed.  Wind power advocates have touted the industry's meteoric growth over the past decade and the sizable economic benefits wind farms bring to rural America through land leases and tax revenue. Others were heartened by Trump's selection of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as secretary of Energy, noting Perry's long experience with conventional wind energy in Texas.  But offshore technology is new to the United States and only recently began to establish its footing along the U.S. Atlantic Coast. The nation's first offshore wind farm began operating at Block Island, R.I., late last year, while several other large projects are still in the development phase, notably the 1,000-megawatt Bay State Wind project off Cape Cod in Massachusetts.  Federal officials, including the head of BOEM, declined to be interviewed about the Trump administration's position on offshore wind power.  In written responses to E&E questions, BOEM acting Director Walter Cruickshank said the agency "expects to be busy in both our oil and gas and our renewable energy programs." But he added that until the Interior Department's new leadership team has settled in, "we won't speculate on how [Trump administration] policy goals will translate into specific actions in BOEM."  A spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who took office March 2, was also careful not to commit the administration to renewable energy, either onshore or offshore.  "Secretary Zinke and President Trump are committed to creating public lands jobs that provide affordable and reliable energy for America," the spokeswoman, Heather Swift, said in an email. "The administration supports a comprehensive energy solution, and renewable energy will play a role so long as that energy is affordable and reliable."  But if there's uncertainty at the top levels of the Trump administration, it hasn't dampened enthusiasm among the companies that are vying for U.S. offshore leases.
Among the firms expected to bid in tomorrow's lease sale are Statoil Wind U.S. LLC; Avangrid Renewables, the U.S. subsidiary of Spanish energy conglomerate Iberdrola SA; Enbridge Holdings (Green Energy) LLC, the renewable energy division of the Canadian pipeline company; and PNE Wind USA, a subsidiary of Germany's PNE Wind AG.  Last week, Statoil and PNE Wind also asked BOEM to open an additional 440,000 acres of wind energy areas off the Massachusetts and New York coasts, where officials estimate the continental shelf could support as much as 4 gigawatts of turbines.  BOEM said the two companies' unsolicited applications were sufficient to initiate a new competitive lease process, which could draw even more developers into the Northeast offshore wind market.

Senators debate paths to privatization
Ariel Wittenberg, E&E News reporter, March 15, 2017
Senators explored how to best expand privatization in the flood insurance market during a Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing yesterday.  The National Flood Insurance Program is up for reauthorization in September, and some congressional Republicans have been pushing to expand the private sector's abilities to provide insurance as a way to lessen the burden on the federal program, which is $24.6 billion in debt.   Testifying before the committee, Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Associate Administrator Roy Wright said he thought Congress should set aside portions of the housing market, like new construction, for private insurers.
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) cautioned against that strategy. "You may be working at odds against yourself if you let new construction be outside the program because you will only be taking on older homes," he said.  Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who last week introduced a bill to accelerate development of the private flood insurance market, also questioned whether the strategy could "put NFIP at a greater risk situation" with private insurers taking up lower-risk new construction.  
But Wright argued that he would rather cede a broad space for private companies to have as their own rather than allow them to cherry-pick which of NFIP's current policies they want to take over.  "If we are going to give some space, let's give it on the new side," he said. "What I don't want them doing is arbitrarily combing through the book and leaving us as the insurer of last resort, because at that point, I am convinced we would require infusions of cash every single year."  Wright added that, at the end of the day, the priority should be that people living in flood zones are insured, regardless of whether their policies are with NFIP or private companies.  "From a public policy perspective, the more people insured, the better," he said.  Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) suggested the program should let private companies take over insuring second homes instead of having taxpayers help foot the bill.  "If you can afford a million-dollar beach estate in Nantucket, you don't need the downtrodden to support you," he said.  Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) asked Wright about the possibility of simply requiring private insurers to include flood damage in home policies, which could create a risk pool broad enough for companies to make money, potentially eliminating the need for the NFIP.
But Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said she was concerned that ceding too much of the market to private insurers would affect NFIP's ability to also work on mitigation efforts and other aspects of the policy's "core mission."  "We have got to make sure we are still maintaining these other resources," she said. "Someone has to pay for funding mapping and flood-plain management. Over time, letting private plans crowd out federal plans and skip out on that bill could destroy that funding."  Wright agreed, saying he wanted to make sure private companies entered the market in a way that provides "mutual gain."  "If that happens, all of us are better off," he said. "If their gain simply comes with culling and reducing my policy base, that is the point in which our income goes down."  Wright also urged senators to make flood insurance rates reflect the risk, saying that "the solvency of the program depends on it."  He said, "Given concerns related to affordability, it may take some time, but the program needs to be on a course to eventually arrive at full risk rates for all policyholders."


3/14/17
Virginia Beach may fund Croatan beach replenishment
http://pilotonline.com/news/local/environment/virginia-beach-may-fund-croatan-beach-replenishment/article_b6e15a27-b330-5dcb-91e2-0b35e0b20606.html

NTB expecting to earn more than $620,000 from property auction
http://www.jdnews.com/news/20170313/ntb-expecting-to-earn-more-than-620000-from-property-auction

Nags Head commissioner appointed to head N.C. Coastal Resources Commission
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170313/nags-head-commissioner-appointed-to-head-nc-coastal-resources-commission

New Hanover Resident Steps Down As Chair Of Coastal Resources Commission
http://www.wilmingtonbiz.com/government/2017/03/13/new_hanover_resident_steps_down_as_chair_of_coastal_resources_commission/15899


3/13/17
Coastal Commission Chair Gorham Resigns
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/03/gorham-resigns-crc/

Charleston County residents could be affected by new flood maps
http://www.postandcourier.com/charleston_sc/charleston-county-residents-could-be-affected-by-new-flood-maps/article_6dd36660-029e-11e7-922f-ffd6f9817451.html

Lawmakers grapple with $24.6B debt (NFIP)
Ariel Wittenberg, E&E News reporter, March 10, 2017
Congressional mandates are keeping the National Flood Insurance Program from paying off its debt, its head told a House subcommittee yesterday.  Roy Wright, Federal Emergency Management Agency deputy associate administrator, said he did not know how the program could repay the $24.6 billion it owes the Treasury under current conditions.  "I don't have the ability to do so," he told the Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance.
Wright blamed Congress requiring the flood program to subsidize insurance for low-income residents living in flood plains.  "There is not a practical way for us to repay this debt based on the discounts and subsidies that I have been directed to give under the National Flood Insurance Act," he said.  Repayment "would require an exponential" increase in policy premiums, Wright told subcommittee Chairman Sean Duffy (R-Wis.).  A number of major weather events, like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, as well as major flooding events this year in North Carolina and Louisiana, have contributed to the program's debt, Wright said.  But he rebuffed accusations from Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) that "FEMA did a poor job of accounting for risk."  "We are collecting the premiums allowable under statute," Wright said. "Eighty percent of my book is actuarially sound, the other 20 percent is based on statute."  The hearing yesterday came as Congress begins the reauthorization process for the NFIP, which will expire at the end of September.  Duffy was among several lawmakers who argued that keeping NFIP policies "accessible and affordable" is one of lawmakers' top priorities. But they disagree on how to do that.
Partisan divide
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), ranking member on Financial Services, said she believes Congress should forgive the program's debt.  "There is no way you could plan to pay this debt by raising the premiums or doing something else," she said.  Duffy and other conservatives on the panel, however, expressed interest in allowing private insurers into the flood insurance market as a way to lessen its burden.  Wright suggested that Congress could set aside portions of the housing market, like new construction, for private insurers.  "Give us an opportunity to create dedicated space to let the markets take hold, take root and flourish," he said.  But Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) argued that private insurance would likely offer more expensive rates than the NFIP and that requiring new construction to go private could inhibit growth.
'Draw the line'
Lawmakers also asked Wright how to best tackle properties that flood repeatedly. Those represent about 1 percent of total policies but add up to 25 to 30 percent of the claims and about $12 billion of the program's debt.  Wright suggested that Congress limit how many times a property can flood, or how much money it could receive from the NFIP, while still receiving subsidized insurance rates.  "There is a point by which we've got to draw a line that says if you exceed 150 or 200 percent of your policy limit that at least we need to take the subsidies and grandfathering away from you and you pay the actual face value premium or we tell you to get on the private market," he said.  But, Wright acknowledged, some properties that flood repeatedly are "in places where the homeowners are of less means" and could not afford such policies.
Bills
Lawmakers have introduced a flurry of NFIP bills in recent days. Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced S. 563 to accelerate the development of a private flood insurance market. Reps. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) and Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) introduced a companion, H.R. 1422, in the House.  Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) introduced H.R. 1423 to improve oversight over the NFIP's "Write Your Own" program, which allows insurance companies to service standard flood insurance policies in their own names.  The bills join an ever-growing list of flood insurance legislation already introduced that may eventually be incorporated into a final reauthorization (E&E Daily, March 8).


3/9/17
Upcoming Buxton Beach Nourishment Project Outlined in Detail at Public Meeting
http://islandfreepress.org/2017Archives/03.08.2017-UpcomingBuxtonBeachNourishmentProjectOutlinedInDetailAtPublicMeeting.html 

Southern Shores Council OKs beach nourishment
http://www.obsentinel.com/news/southern-shores-council-oks-beach-nourishment/article_72a12270-0462-11e7-8c02-1b3ef1c46c48.html 

N.C. looking for new fisheries director
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170308/nc-looking-for-new-fisheries-director
NCDEQ Press Release - https://deq.nc.gov/state-searching-head-nc-division-marine-fisheries 

More people are driving on Hatteras beaches while record number of sea turtle nests are found
http://pilotonline.com/news/local/environment/more-people-are-driving-on-hatteras-beaches-while-record-number/article_622e67d5-c32f-5894-8179-e4d6c46fc0ea.html 

DHEC board spurns staff, allows use of controversial seawalls
http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/local/article137463333.html 

3/8/17
One Stop Carteret County Dredging & Beach Nourishment Update - Spring 2017
http://www.carteretcountync.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/946

Bald Head Island Seeks to Mine Shoals Sand
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/03/bald-head-island-seeks-mine-shoals-sand/

Southern Shores OK’s nourishment project for later this year
https://outerbanksvoice.com/2017/03/08/southern-shores-oks-nourishment-project-for-later-this-year/

Even outside flood zones, insurance now a must
Erika Bolstad, E&E News reporter, March 8, 2017
NEW ORLEANS — To understand how ill-prepared for flooding most Americans are, and how vast the flood insurance problem is in the United States, take a look at South Carolina, the state's insurance commissioner told a panel yesterday.  In October of 2015, South Carolina weathered such a downpour that rainfall could be measured in some places by the foot. It was a record-breaking amount of water that drenched the middle part of the state, a swath of South Carolina not only unaccustomed to such deluges, but also mostly outside flood zones.  Then came Hurricane Matthew a year later, said Ray Farmer, the state's insurance commissioner.  "If you look at South Carolina, my position is our entire state's in a flood zone," Farmer told a panel at the annual RES/CON Global Resilience Summit here. "Everyone, unless you're living on top of a rock, everyone needs to have flood insurance."
Over the past several years, catastrophic floods, often driven by heavy rain events, have swept through many states. Some were tropical systems, like Hurricane Matthew. Many more, though, were big rain events that caught people by surprise — in Houston; Baton Rouge, La.; West Virginia; South Carolina; and beyond. They swamped places where few people carried flood insurance, because they did not think they needed it.  With rising global temperatures, the 2014 National Climate Assessment predicts that many communities will see such extreme precipitation events more frequently. Climate scientists know that the intensity of extreme precipitation events is on the rise because there's more water vapor in the atmosphere caused by higher global and sea temperatures.
Such storms have also exposed one of the greatest weaknesses in the National Flood Insurance Program, known as NFIP: People often don't have insurance outside high-risk flood areas because local governments have successfully petitioned to have the rates lowered by proving they've invested in levees or other defenses.  "The most gut-wrenching part of it is person after person after person would come up and say, 'I have no coverage at all. I lost my home. What do I do now?'" Farmer said.  Many panelists also worried about some of the incentives in NFIP, which is $23 billion in debt and up for congressional reauthorization this year.
Many communities successfully protest their flood zone ratings to help homeowners lower their rates. When they do so, it also allows many homeowners to exit the program, said Ned Dolese, who started a private flood insurance company, Coastal American Insurance Co., after growing frustrated with the cost of insurance after Hurricane Katrina. Coastal offers flood insurance as a policy on top of a regular homeowners insurance policy, and it is working to enter additional state markets.  "Are we cannibalizing the program because a community can then say, 'I no longer want to be in the flood zone?'" Dolese asked. "Where we're sitting today, a lot of this area that flooded during Katrina is no longer a flood zone. That's a political process. That has no basis in science or actuarial science or anything else. It's politically driven."
Few panelists addressed climate change outright. Instead, they focused on the more sweeping topic of the conference: how to build greater resilience in communities.  That should start by preparing before the water rises, said Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), whose district includes the areas flooded in Baton Rouge. Local officials have a responsibility to adequately assess their vulnerability, he said. "We've got to flip this whole paradigm over," Graves said. "There is a responsibility of local governments ... to make sure that your building codes and that your zoning ordinances are really compatible with the areas that these people are moving to. To make sure that you're not, as a county official, as a parish official, as a city official or as a state official, that you're not actually creating more liability by building roads to areas that are vulnerable."


Bipartisan flood insurance bill linked to rising seas
Hannah Hess, E&E News reporter, March 8, 2017
Bipartisan flood insurance legislation from two Florida congressmen would extend rate caps to the owners of second homes and rental properties, in the latest bid to address the challenge of sea-level rise.  Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican who represents the Keys, partnered with Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist yesterday to introduce legislation to reform the National Flood Insurance Program. Congress is working toward reauthorizing the program, which would otherwise expire in September (E&E Daily, March 6).  Crist said his panhandle-based district, which he called a peninsula on a peninsula, "is ground zero for climate change and the impact of rising sea levels and storm surge."  "In the face of these threats," Crist said, "it is more important than ever to work across the aisle to keep flood insurance affordable for Floridians protecting their homes and businesses."
Raising awareness about the repercussions of rising seas presents unique challenges, said a recently published paper in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science.  The initial focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions may have prevented action — and public communication — on how to respond to the effects of climate change, including sea-level rise, said co-authors Karen Akerlof, Michelle Covi and Elizabeth Rohring.  Public opinion polls rank sea-level rise as a lesser concern than other global warming impacts, even in some of the most affected parts of the world, they note.
Curbelo is co-chairman of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, a group he launched last year with fellow South Florida Rep. Ted Deutch (D) to educate members on economically viable options to reduce climate risk and to explore mitigation and adaptation. Crist joined the caucus last month (Greenwire, Feb. 9).  "Across the country, rental properties like those affected by this bill not only serve as primary income for many landlords but also provide reasonably priced housing for the workforce in our coastal communities," Curbelo said yesterday.  Though his statement on the bill did not refer to climate, Curbelo has spoken out recently about the impact sea-level rise is having on roads and infrastructure in his low-lying district.  "The 2015 king tides led to flooding that lasted more than three weeks in several neighborhoods, causing damage to homes and businesses, and leaving my constituents unable to move freely to and from their homes," Curbelo said in a recent speech on the House floor that commended local planning efforts.
Curbelo advocated for federal transportation infrastructure research grants to "help ensure we have the best engineering at our disposal" and mitigation policies.  With President Trump pushing to work with Congress on infrastructure, Curbelo has urged for funding to address sea-level rise to be part of the package.  Curbelo said after Trump's recent address to Congress that infrastructure could provide a lot of opportunity for lawmakers on Capitol Hill who are concerned about climate impacts (E&E Daily, March 1).


3/6/17
Coastal scientists draw a line in the sand after new Shore Protection Act passes House
http://savannahnow.com/news/2017-03-04/coastal-scientists-draw-line-sand-after-new-shore-protection-act-passes-house

South Carolina groups sue to protect Endangered Species Act
http://www.postandcourier.com/news/south-carolina-groups-sue-to-protect-endangered-species-act/article_860a7626-ff63-11e6-a860-1bb095a629d3.html

100 homes have been raised above Dare County flood areas in last 20 years
http://pilotonline.com/news/government/local/homes-have-been-raised-above-dare-county-flood-areas-in/article_6bc75232-f768-5ce7-9463-5c558fab2756.html

Trump action on water regulation garners praise, concern along N.C. coast
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170303/trump-action-on-water-regulation-garners-praise-concern-along-nc-coast 


3/3/17
Legislators Eye Beach Sand Funding, Rules
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/03/legislators-eye-beach-sand-funding-rules/ 

Beach committee continues review of how best to pay for long-term shore protection
http://stateportpilot.com/news/article_879c1aae-ff49-11e6-9302-e74c2467031d.html

Some Virginia barrier islands are shrinking by the day: "You can just feel it"
http://pilotonline.com/news/local/environment/some-virginia-barrier-islands-are-shrinking-by-the-day-you/article_db707859-b6a4-5cf3-8d8e-9c8d45c70ebf.html

Ocean Isle Beach has all permits for terminal groin
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170302/ocean-isle-beach-has-all-permits-for-terminal-groin 

Oak Island seeking bids to place 156,000 yards of sand on areas of eroded beachfront
http://stateportpilot.com/news/article_47e2de70-ff49-11e6-b943-2ffbf4b235ad.html

Trump Orders ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule Changed
http://ens-newswire.com/2017/03/01/trump-orders-waters-of-the-united-states-rule-changed/

NC must act now to avoid a disaster as sea levels rise
http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article135854573.html


3/1/17
Work Continues on Rich Inlet Biological Study
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/02/work-continues-rich-inlet-biological-study/

North Topsail leaders to finalize decision on contract for hardened structure project
http://www.jdnews.com/news/20170301/north-topsail-leaders-to-finalize-decision-on-contract-for-hardened-structure-project 

Few Weeks Left In Holden Beach Renourishment Program
http://www.wwaytv3.com/2017/02/27/few-weeks-left-in-holden-beach-renourishment-program/

Bill offers new definition of sand dunes in Georgia
http://savannahnow.com/news/2017-02-26/bill-offers-new-definition-sand-dunes-georgia 

Yale Climate Opinion Maps – U.S. 2016
http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us-2016/

'Deadline' lawsuits largely determined FWS's focus — GAO
Emily Yehle, E&E News reporter, 2/28/17
The Fish and Wildlife Service faced 122 "deadline" lawsuits between 2005 and 2015, prompting the agency to negotiate settlements that largely dictated which species were considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.  The GAO report is an overview of so-called Section 4 deadline lawsuits. Under the Endangered Species Act, outside groups can sue FWS or the National Marine Fisheries Service for not meeting statutory deadlines for listing petitions.  Republicans have long criticized the process, sometimes saying it allows environmental groups to force species listing. The GAO report does not support that contention, concluding that settlement agreements "did not affect the substantive basis or procedural rule-making requirements" under ESA.
But the settlements did eat up resources.  "For fiscal years 2005 through 2015, FWS officials said they have focused much of their Section 4 program on completing actions required under settlement agreements and court orders," GAO analysts wrote, adding that a multispecies settlement in 2011 made that focus particularly evident. "To fulfill its commitments under these agreements, FWS's efforts related to listing have required the use of substantially all of its petition and listing budgetary resources, according to FWS documents."  ESA sets a firm deadline of 90 days for FWS and NMFS to review petitions for changing, adding or removing animals and plants from the endangered and threatened species lists. If the agencies find a petition presented "substantial" information in support of action, they then have 12 months to determine whether the move is warranted.  The result is that FWS and NMFS usually settle deadline lawsuits, because they can't dispute that they missed a required deadline.
Between fiscal 2005 and 2015, plaintiffs filed 141 deadline suits against FWS and NMFS, involving 1,441 species. More than half the lawsuits came from two groups: the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians.
CBD pointed out that the report shows that the number of lawsuits filed has declined since 2011, when FWS agreed to consider listing more than 250 species over five years. The group also emphasized that some imperiled species wait years for protection.  "Lawsuits have targeted species that in many cases have been waiting decades for protection and ensured they at least get a decision about that protection," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at CBD. "The Fish and Wildlife Service, however, has still largely determined the priorities for which species get protection, and in no cases have settlements determined the outcome of decisions or cut industry or states out of the process. This is clear from the GAO’s report."  The agencies negotiated settlements for 72 percent of the lawsuits, while 22 percent were dismissed voluntarily because actions were completed.  Only nine lawsuits — all involving FWS — were resolved by court order, according to the report. The court dismissed six of them.
House Natural Resources ranking member Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who requested the report, said today that the report confirmed that such lawsuits "do not force the government to list species."  "Now it should be clear to everyone that the GOP 'sue and settle' conspiracy theory belongs in the garbage along with its claims of global cooling and massive voter fraud," he said. "Instead of targeting American citizens and the conservation groups that help them hold the government accountable for breaking the law, congressional Republicans should adequately fund species conservation efforts so that agencies can actually meet statutory deadlines." 
But Republicans saw the report differently.  "Litigation is driving ESA decisions and taxpayers are paying millions in attorney's fees to the groups that sue the government on those cases," Parish Braden, spokesman for the Natural Resources Committee, said in an email.  Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) has said the ESA should be repealed and replaced, and Braden reiterated today that ESA was a "broken" policy. He also criticized Grijalva for serving on the advisory board of CBD's Climate Law Institute. The institute aims to wage "legal and public-pressure campaigns" to prevent extinction amid global warming.


2/27/17
Who should pay for beach nourishment?
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170224/who-should-pay-for-beach-nourishment 

Oak Island and other coastal communities work to restore beaches
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170223/oak-island-and-other-coastal-communities-work-to-restore-beaches

Long-awaited beach nourishment project along Outer Banks set to start in May
http://wtkr.com/2017/02/22/long-awaited-beach-nourishment-project-along-outer-banks-set-to-start-in-may/ 

Mason Inlet catching more boaters
http://luminanews.com/2017/02/mason-inlet-catching-boaters/

Oak Island closes street to accommodate Publix; pursues tax to prepared meals
http://stateportpilot.com/news/article_6cb4124c-f930-11e6-abe1-8f333da91579.html

Numbers against offshore oil
http://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/editorials/numbers-against-offshore-oil/article_c9553f46-fa05-11e6-964f-c75a5aa5ba25.html 


2/22/17
NEW - Final Report to Congress: John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System Digital Mapping Pilot Project
https://www.fws.gov/ecological-services/habitat-conservation/cbra/Act/Pilot.html  

Topsail Beach’s Request for Sand Site Stalled
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/02/topsail-beachs-request-for-sand-site-stalled/

Offshore drilling opponents re-gear for new round of battles
http://www.postandcourier.com/news/offshore-drilling-opponents-re-gear-for-new-round-of-battles/article_543f0c84-f855-11e6-ad08-cb4a8eee6105.html


2/17/17
Myers: Modernize Endangered Species Act
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/02/19463/

Widening will work its way down the beach in 1,000-foot chunks
https://outerbanksvoice.com/2017/02/16/widening-will-work-down-the-beach-in-1000-foot-chunks/ 

Dredging could benefit Holden Beach, Intracoastal boaters
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170217/dredging-could-benefit-holden-beach-intracoastal-boaters

Oak Island seeks prepared meals tax (for nourishment)
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170217/oak-island-seeks-prepared-meals-tax

Acting Ferry Division director urges islanders to support passenger ferry and the Dredge Report
https://ocracokeobserver.com/2017/02/17/interim-ferry-division-director-urges-islanders-to-support-passenger-ferry/ 

Challenge to DeBordieu seawall starts over (SC)
http://www.coastalobserver.com/articles/2017/021617/1.html 

‘Last standing’ no more, Hunting Island’s Little Blue torn down
http://www.islandpacket.com/news/local/community/beaufort-news/article133319774.html

Creating ‘Virtual Storms’ To Help Design Coastal Defenses
http://www.eurasiareview.com/16022017-creating-virtual-storms-to-help-design-coastal-defenses/

2/16/17
Updates on Upcoming Inlet Dredging Presented at Waterways Commission Meeting
http://islandfreepress.org/2017Archives/02.15.2017-UpdatesOnUpcomingInletDredgingPresentedAtWaterwaysCommissionMeeting.html 

Hilton Head Island looking at changes to the beach management plan
http://www.wmbfnews.com/story/34514820/hilton-head-island-looking-at-changes-to-the-beach-management-plan

Cape Hatteras National Seashore has opened the Cape Point Bypass Road extension to the public.
http://www.obsentinel.com/news/cape-hatteras-national-seashore-has-opened-the-cape-point-bypass/article_78a9c1a2-f2d0-11e6-a883-c7faea19a60f.html 

Want to help rebuild Hunting Island? You might have the chance soon
http://www.islandpacket.com/news/local/community/beaufort-news/article132827739.html

Rep. Iler updates transportation group on highway funding and projects, ports spending
http://stateportpilot.com/news/article_6c95078e-f391-11e6-86a7-b776e4d36b4e.html 

GOP senators reintroduce bills cracking down on lawsuits, wolf policy
Corbin Hiar, E&E News reporter, February 16, 2017
Republican senators are supporting a series of bills that would make it harder for the Fish and Wildlife Service to resolve Endangered Species Act lawsuits and would force the agency to provide more information on proposed protections for Mexican wolves.  Two of the three ESA bills introduced Tuesday were from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the majority whip.  The "Endangered Species Act Settlement Reform Act," S. 375, would require the Interior Department to provide public notification of when ESA suits, often from environmental groups, are filed and would set a lower standard for when outside groups, such as interested businesses, can intervene.  Introduced by Cornyn in both 2013 and 2015, the legislation also seeks to require judges to obtain the consent of affected local governments before approving settlements and would block litigants from obtaining legal payments.
"By giving states, counties, and local landowners a seat at the table, this bill will bring some much-needed transparency to the ESA settlement process," the majority whip said in a news release. "This will ensure Washington bureaucrats can't run roughshod over Texas landowners and job creators."  Cornyn also reintroduced the "21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act," S. 376, which would require the secretaries of the Interior and Commerce, who jointly implement the ESA, to publish any scientific and commercial data online that are used for adding or removing animals and plants from the endangered or threatened species lists. But the bill would also prohibit the posting of landowners' "personal information."
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) resurrected the "Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan Act" as well.
The bill, S. 368, seeks to shape the forthcoming update to the species's three-decade-old recovery plan.
The revision is required by December as a condition of a settlement the Obama administration struck last year with conservation groups and some states to resolve a series of lawsuits related to the recovery program for the wolf subspecies, one of the most endangered mammals in North America (Greenwire, April 27, 2016).
Flake's legislation would require FWS to set "an enforceable maximum population of the Mexican gray wolf" within a range below the current boundary line of Interstate 40 that is acceptable to ranchers, landowners, recreation interests and county governments in Arizona and New Mexico — the only two states in which the wolf is currently found.  Regulators would be require to describe "acceptable and unacceptable impacts on wild game, livestock and recreation" in those states. It also would set a process for state wildlife officials to assume authority of the recovery effort if they find FWS is in noncompliance with the revised recovery plan and would make them eligible for federal grant funding.  "The federal government's outdated management of Mexican gray wolf populations is harming ranchers and our state's rural communities," said Flake, who is up for re-election in 2018. "This bill will ease the burdens on rural Arizonans by enhancing local stakeholder participation and state involvement in the recovery process."  The sole co-sponsor of the bill last session was Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was re-elected in 2016. He hasn't signed up to support the most recent package.


2/14/17
Wilmington Chamber Pushing For State Beach Fund
http://www.wilmingtonbiz.com/government/2017/02/10/wilmington_chamber_pushing_for_state_beach_fund/15781

An Approach to Climate Change that Even Deniers Can Support
http://www.ozy.com/politics-and-power/an-approach-to-climate-change-that-even-deniers-can-support/74684

Work to begin soon on Willoughby Spit storm damage reduction project
http://www.13newsnow.com/news/local/mycity/norfolk/work-to-begin-soon-on-willoughby-spit-storm-damage-reduction-project/407902818 

Shifting currents for proposed wind farms off N.C. coast
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170213/shifting-currents-for-proposed-wind-farms-off-nc-coast 

State coastal agency gathers local feedback following Hurricane Matthew
http://deq.nc.gov/state-coastal-agency-gathers-local-feedback-following-hurricane-matthew 

Barrasso hopes to sell Democrats on reforms (Endangered Species)
Corbin Hiar, E&E News reporter, February 13, 2017
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week will take a fresh look at reforming the Endangered Species Act — a long-held Republican priority that may now be possible with the party's unified control of Congress and the White House.  But to get any ESA reform bill past a Senate filibuster, Republicans will need to secure at least eight Democratic votes.  In a sign of the seriousness with which EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is approaching that endeavor, the majority of planned witnesses for this week's hearing have Democratic ties.  Lawmakers will hear from Fish and Wildlife Service directors who led the agency during the Clinton and Obama administrations, a former Democratic governor of Wyoming, the president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, and the executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. "The witnesses highlight the fact that the ESA is an issue that presents challenges across the political spectrum — not just for Republicans — and throughout the United States," a committee source said in an email.  Not all of the witnesses are likely to offer full-throated support for reform. Defenders of Wildlife CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark, who was President Clinton's FWS director, has been critical of past attempts to tweak the law by making it less protective of species or their habitats.
But the viewpoints of other guests are less clear. For example, Dan Ashe, CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, said while serving as President Obama's FWS director that "I do believe that the Endangered Species Act should be reauthorized, and I think there could be room for improvement of the law" (E&E Daily, May 7, 2015).  The Obama administration, however, went on to push a series of ESA regulatory reforms and explicitly closed the door on supporting any statutory changes (Greenwire, May 18, 2015).  "We hope that the hearing will initiate a serious and thoughtful discussion regarding the challenges with the ESA and potential opportunities to modernize the statute," the committee source said. "We need to make this Act work more efficiently towards achieving its basic conservation purpose."  Barrasso, long a critic of the law, has made overhauling the ESA one of his top legislative priorities (Greenwire, Jan. 17).
The Western Governors Association has also called for an update. The bipartisan group released a policy blueprint for such an effort last year and is currently at work on specific legislative proposals (Greenwire, Dec. 15, 2016).  House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), on the other hand, has said the law should be repealed and replaced.  "I'm not sure if there's a way of actually reforming the Endangered Species Act or if you simply have to start over again," he told E&E News last year (E&E Daily, Dec. 9, 2016).  Enacted in 1973, the law currently protects more than 1,600 U.S. species, but critics note that it has only led to the recovery of 47 animals or plants. It has been nearly 30 years since the ESA was last amended.  Schedule: The hearing is Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 10 a.m. in 406 Dirksen.
Witnesses: Former Wyoming Gov. David Freudenthal (D); Jamie Rappaport Clark, CEO of Defenders of Wildlife; Dan Ashe, CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums; James Holte, president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation; and Gordon Myers, executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and president of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

2/10/17
There have never been this many beach-expansion projects on the Outer Banks, and experts don't know why
http://pilotonline.com/news/local/environment/there-have-never-been-this-many-beach-expansion-projects-on/article_9b3b7d91-4595-5af8-a1c4-7ed857bb5ca5.html 

CRC: Let’s talk flood maps
http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/article_093ad422-efb1-11e6-8291-ff803573a459.html

Court lets agencies pause critical habitat litigation
Emily Yehle, E&E News reporter, February 10, 2017
A federal judge has granted a two-month delay in litigation over critical habitat rules, allowing the Trump administration to get up to speed on the issue.  More than a dozen states filed the lawsuit in November, challenging a series of controversial updates to rules under the Endangered Species Act (Greenwire, Nov. 30, 2016). The states assert that the changes allow federal agencies to designate "entire states" as habitat for imperiled species.  The Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service filed an unopposed motion yesterday asking for a stay in the proceedings. Judge Katherine Nelson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama granted the motion today.  "A 60-day stay of proceedings will allow Defendants time to brief incoming administration officials with decision-making responsibility about this case, so that they may become familiar with the subject matter and issues presented," the agencies wrote in the motion. "Requests to continue proceedings to allow time for new administration officials to become familiar with cases under their authority are customary."  Eighteen states filed the original lawsuit: Alabama, Arkansas, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Missouri and Idaho later joined as plaintiffs.  A critical habitat designation mandates that federal agencies consult with FWS or NMFS before approving or funding any projects in the area. The states' lawsuit takes aim at a rule that gives the agencies more flexibility to designate land that is not the current home to the species.  The agencies previously could only consider unoccupied habitat if they determined that the species could not recover without it. Now they can consider both unoccupied and occupied habitat at the same time.  The states argue that the rule change, among others, unlawfully expands the government's control over state lands and waters.

2/9/17
DEQ Secretary makes leadership announcements
http://deq.nc.gov/deq-secretary-makes-leadership-announcements-0

Court Halts Cooper’s Cabinet Confirmations
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/02/coopers-cabinet-confirmations-put-hold/

Sandbags remain hard problem to solve along N.C. coast
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170208/sandbags-remain-hard-problem-to-solve-along-nc-coast

County to pay up to $500K for Southern Shores nourishment
https://outerbanksvoice.com/2017/02/09/county-to-pay-up-to-500k-for-southern-shores-nourishment/ 

County to help fund Southern Shores project
http://www.obsentinel.com/news/county-to-help-fund-southern-shores-project/article_b2fbded4-ed4a-11e6-8d93-179f5cd7a7a7.html

House committee report says state should step-up role in maintenance of ocean inlets
http://stateportpilot.com/news/article_fde5027a-ee0a-11e6-a6ca-239e2883ba90.html 

Area officials taking flood map concerns to Raleigh
http://www.jdnews.com/news/20170207/area-officials-taking-flood-map-concerns-to-raleigh

Fearing tourism losses, Outer Banks property owners sue NCDOT to stop NC 12 bridge
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/traffic/article131080124.html

NTB to allow swimming pools on oceanfront setback
http://www.jdnews.com/news/20170207/ntb-to-allow-swimming-pools-on-oceanfront-setback

PUBLIC NOTICE
The Wilmington District, Corps of Engineers, received a request from the Village of Bald Head Island to dredge Frying Pan Shoals and discharge the dredged material along the shoreline of Bald Head Island, including West Beach and South Beach, for groin fillet maintenance and beach nourishment.
http://www.saw.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory-Permit-Program/Public-Notices/article-view-display/Article/1076837/saw-2012-00040/ 

2/6/17
Group calls for U.S. flood insurance revamp as program deadline nears
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-floods-insurance-idUSKBN15G4O2

Officials to talk impact - Draft federal flood maps focus of meeting in Raleigh
http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/article_a8fac122-eb27-11e6-a596-b388fa4eb54a.html#user-comment-area

“Low Risk isn’t No Risk,” and Other Things you Need to Know about the Preliminary Flood Maps
http://hatterasdesigns.net/PivotBlog/?e=412

4 ways coastal meeting could impact locals
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170203/4-ways-coastal-meeting-could-impact-locals 

Lawsuit by group of OBX homeowners claims state cut illegal deal with environmental group
http://pilotonline.com/news/local/transportation/lawsuit-by-group-of-obx-homeowners-claims-state-cut-illegal/article_55a605dc-43e0-5e20-a38a-a0f1330a6865.html 

Virginia's Barrier Islands Are on the Move
http://wvtf.org/post/virginias-barrier-islands-are-move#stream/0 

Orrin H. Pilkey: Heading over the coastal cliff in North Carolina
http://pilotonline.com/opinion/columnist/guest/orrin-h-pilkey-heading-over-the-coastal-cliff-in-north/article_2be9cf06-aed5-5a84-b391-f475bccd46a7.html
 

Industry sees opening to revamp species protection law
Emily Yehle, E&E News reporter, February 3, 2017
About 30 baleen whales live year-round in an underwater canyon off the Florida Panhandle, in an area of the Gulf of Mexico that is currently off-limits to oil and gas activity but could be reopened in 2022.  The subspecies of Bryde's whale may be the most endangered whale in the world, and right now, one U.S. law prohibits companies and agencies from killing or harassing them: the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The 45-year-old law has avoided tinkering by Congress since 1994, when provisions were added to address fisheries that inadvertently harm marine mammals. But the oil and gas industry has long found the act's permitting process burdensome — and it sees a possible opening for updates with a Republican Congress and a Trump administration.  Like other statutes, the MMPA "should be reviewed and reauthorized from time to time to reflect current-day realities," said Dustin Van Liew, director of regulatory and government affairs at the International Association of Geophysical Contractors. "The act has predominantly fulfilled the original intent of Congress, ending the threat of extinction and allowing for increasing populations of marine mammals across the board in response to the regulation of overhunting, overfishing and unscrupulous trade."  Van Liew said the IAGC "welcomes a discussion" with Congress and the administration on how to modernize the MMPA. The National Ocean Industries Association declined to comment on the MMPA, referring a reporter to IAGC.
It's unclear whether the MMPA will interest GOP lawmakers who have historically focused on higher-profile laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the Antiquities Act. But several environmental groups are already sounding the alarm.  The Natural Resources Defense Council included MMPA on a list of the policies that it worries could be weakened by the Trump administration and its "GOP allies." Oceana has also identified it as a possible target of the current Congress.  "In terms of 'modernize,' I would point out that's language we often hear from industry affected by environmental laws and regulations," said Lara Levison, senior director of federal policy at Oceana. "The law has done a great deal to protect marine mammals, but its work is far from accomplished."  Michael Jasny, director of NRDC's Marine Mammal Protection Project, said he doesn't know of any specific plans to amend the MMPA. But he pointed to past industry criticism of the incidental harassment authorizations required under the law for any project that might harm or disturb a marine mammal.  "It's hard not to be worried about everything," Jasny said. "This is a dark age for anyone who is concerned about the environment or public health."
'Why should it take so long?'
Broadly, the MMPA prohibits anyone from harassing or killing a marine mammal without permission from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service routinely gives that permission to various companies, groups and federal agencies, along with a set of requirements to mitigate the effects of a project on marine mammals.  A company conducting seismic surveys, for example, usually is limited to operating its underwater air guns during certain times and within certain areas. That's because the air guns — used to find mineral deposits beneath the seafloor — can mask the calls of whales, as well as interrupt their feeding and cause hearing loss.
Those mitigation measures can be a source of controversy, with environmental groups sometimes arguing that they are not stringent enough. Most recently, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of NRDC and others in holding that NMFS failed to adequately consider the impacts of the Navy's sonar testing system on marine mammals (E&E News PM, July 15, 2016).
For the oil and gas industry, a main frustration has been the length of the permitting process. IAGC pointed to its members' attempts to get authorization for seismic surveys in the Atlantic.  The permits were rolled up into a broader controversy over the Obama administration's initial proposal to open the Atlantic to drilling. The administration eventually decided to not allow oil and gas leasing off the East Coast — and eventually denied the permits for seismic surveys.  But by then, NOAA had spent more than two years reviewing applications from companies for geophysical surveys. The delay was brought up at least once in a congressional hearing, with an IAGC witness asserting that seismic surveys don't hurt marine mammal populations (E&E Daily, July 15, 2015).  "Seismic surveying can be conducted safely, causing no harm to marine mammals, so why should it take so long to get a permit?" Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) said at the 2015 hearing. "I have yet to hear a reasonable answer to this question."  That same year, Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, John Cornyn of Texas and Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker of Mississippi — along with then-Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana — proposed changes to the MMPA process in a bill to expand oil and gas activity to the eastern Gulf, home of the Bryde's whale (E&E Daily, May 13, 2015). Among other things, the bill would have set hard deadlines for NOAA to act upon or deny requests for incidental harassment authorizations.
Van Liew of IAGC said yesterday that MMPA, "as applied today, is imposing regulatory burdens that are impossible for the federal government to meet."  "Offshore energy development is threatened with major delays and unnecessary restrictions due to the inability of federal agencies to implement the MMPA's vague or overly protective standards," he said.  Environmentalists pointed out that the Atlantic is new territory for oil and gas activity, as well as home to the endangered North Atlantic right whale. Gathering and analyzing the best available science for an incidental harassment authorization would take NOAA longer than usual in that case, they said.  At a time when the ocean is becoming more dangerous to marine mammals — thanks to increasing ship traffic, noise and energy development — Jasny and Levison said the MMPA is an important protection.  "Trying to open up a statute to undermine it in any way, it's inappropriate," Jasny said. "It would meddle with a statute that is working well, and it would go against the passionate interest and concern of the American public."

2/3/17
North Topsail Looks to Fast-Track Groin Study
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/02/north-topsail-looks-fast-track-groin-study/

Sandbag assessments on hold as legal challenge continues
http://www.jdnews.com/news/20170202/sandbag-assessments-on-hold-as-legal-challenge-continues 

Challenge filed in federal court to block Rodanthe bridge
https://outerbanksvoice.com/2017/02/02/challenge-filed-in-federal-court-to-block-rodanthe-bridge/ 

Sand flows from inlet channel onto Garden City (SC)
http://www.coastalobserver.com/articles/2017/020217/2.html 

County considers 'engineered' beaches (Georgetown County, SC)
http://www.coastalobserver.com/articles/2017/020217/3.html 


2/2/17
North Topsail leaders to hear presentation on hardened structure project
http://www.jdnews.com/news/20170201/north-topsail-leaders-to-hear-presentation-on-hardened-structure-project

Beach repair a must for South Carolina’s money making counties, argues senator
http://counton2.com/2017/01/31/beach-repair-a-must-for-south-carolinas-money-making-counties-argues-senator/ 

Edisto Beach begins project to replenish sand
http://southcarolinapublicradio.org/post/edisto-beach-begins-project-replenish-sand  

Longer bypass for four-wheel drives at Cape Point now open
https://outerbanksvoice.com/2017/02/01/longer-bypass-for-four-wheel-drives-at-cape-point-now-open/


1/31/17
Carteret County Beach Commission Meeting Agenda
February 6, 2017; Pine Knoll Shores Town Hall, 2 pm
http://www.carteretcountync.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/02062017-888

NC Coastal Resources Commission Meeting Agenda
February 7-8, 2017; DoubleTree; Atlantic Beach
https://deq.nc.gov/february-2017-meeting-agenda 

Carolina Beach dune-rebuilding event sees record turnout, eyes Kure Beach for 2018
http://portcitydaily.com/2017/01/28/carolina-beach-dune-rebuilding-event-sees-record-turn-out-eyes-kure-beach-for-2018/

New Jersey Opinion - A tale of three beaches after the storm: One done right and two done wrong
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/01/a_tale_of_three_beaches_post-sandy_one_done_right.html

A Scientists’ March on Washington Is a Bad Idea
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/31/opinion/a-scientists-march-on-washington-is-a-bad-idea.html

1/26/17
Flood mapping methodology concerns raised in Carteret County
http://www.jdnews.com/news/20170125/flood-mapping-methodology-concerns-raised-in-carteret-county 

Video: Learn more about how flood maps could affect you
https://outerbanksvoice.com/2017/01/23/video-learn-more-about-how-flood-maps-could-affect-you/

State Floodplain Mapping Office holds public meetings
http://www.jdnews.com/news/20170125/state-floodplain-mapping-office-holds-public-meetings 

Park Service superintendent to visit Ocracoke today about new beach access changes, FEMA specialists on island.
https://ocracokeobserver.com/2017/01/25/park-service-superintendent-to-visit-ocracoke-today-about-new-beach-access-changes-fema-specialists-on-island/ 

White House Chief of Staff Orders Freezing of Pending Regulations (Endangered Species related)
http://www.endangeredspecieslawandpolicy.com/2017/01/articles/congress/white-house-chief-of-staff-orders-freezing-of-pending-regulations/

UNC Collaboratory Set to Begin Research
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/01/unc-collaboratory-set-to-begin-research/ 

Southern Shores moves closer to beach nourishment
http://www.obsentinel.com/news/southern-shores-moves-closer-to-beach-nourishment/article_49dc6e06-ddb3-11e6-9ec9-7f03305ea3fc.html 

Kitty Hawk wind farm sale set for March
http://www.obsentinel.com/news/kitty-hawk-wind-farm-sale-set-for-march/article_5563c486-e245-11e6-be99-1b6725d47022.html

Barrier-island migration drives large-scale marsh loss
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170124140812.htm


1/24/17
From Forest to Beach
http://www.northbeachsun.com/from-forest-to-beach/

Nags Head Officials Ask Feds For Beach Renourishment Help
http://wunc.org/post/nags-head-officials-ask-feds-beach-renourishment-help#stream/0

Hurricane Matthew destroyed Hunting Island. Here’s the plan for the park’s new look
http://www.islandpacket.com/news/local/community/beaufort-news/article128177069.html


1/23/17
North Topsail Beach leaders moving forward on hardened structure
http://www.jdnews.com/news/20170122/north-topsail-beach-leaders-moving-forward-on-hardened-structure

In Corova, Battle Rages Over Development
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/01/corova-battle-rages-property-rights/

Edisto begins beach renourishment project after Hurricane Matthew damage
http://www.postandcourier.com/news/edisto-begins-beach-renourishment-project-after-hurricane-matthew-damage/article_968bf2e4-dcd7-11e6-bfb0-c3a30f33a10d.html

Photos: Holden Beach nourishment project
http://www.starnewsonline.com/photogallery/NC/20170120/NEWS/119009995/PH/1

Reflections on Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
http://hatterasdesigns.net/PivotBlog/?e=411 

Public meetings to address county preliminary flood maps (Onslow)
http://www.jdnews.com/news/20170122/public-meetings-to-address-county-preliminary-flood-maps

1/19/17
Contractor for beach work in three towns plans to start in May
https://outerbanksvoice.com/2017/01/17/contractor-nails-down-schedule-for-beach-work-in-three-towns/ 

Matthew blamed for loss of a third of Nags Head’s new beach
https://outerbanksvoice.com/2017/01/19/matthew-blamed-for-loss-of-a-third-of-nags-heads-new-beach/

Southern Shores hires firm to examine beach nourishment
https://outerbanksvoice.com/2017/01/18/southern-shores-hires-engineer-to-plan-possible-beach-project/ 

Southern Shores takes step toward beach nourishment
http://www.obsentinel.com/news/southern-shores-takes-step-toward-beach-nourishment/article_49dc6e06-ddb3-11e6-9ec9-7f03305ea3fc.html 

FEMA maps generate a flood of concerns
http://www.obsentinel.com/news/fema-maps-generate-a-flood-of-concerns/article_51f19048-dcc4-11e6-a816-e39ee6e3808d.html

US to lease Atlantic Ocean for offshore wind farm off Kitty Hawk
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article127071529.html

Dredge to return to Ocracoke tomorrow
https://ocracokeobserver.com/2017/01/18/dredge-to-return-to-ocracoke-tomorrow/ 

More dredging at Ocracoke ferry channel could interrupt service
http://islandfreepress.org/2017Archives/01.18.2017-MoreDredgingAtOcracokeFerryChannelCouldInterruptService.html 


1/17/17
Flood maps meeting attracts property owners seeking answers
http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/article_ff3c3e76-d9a7-11e6-b987-3b755be7d423.html 

Preliminary flood maps explained at packed Hatteras Island meeting
http://islandfreepress.org/2017Archives/01.13.2017-PreliminaryFloodMapsExplainedAtPackedHatterasIslandMeeting.html 

Park Service superintendent, staff to visit Ocracoke about new beach access changes
https://ocracokeobserver.com/2017/01/16/park-service-superintendent-staff-to-visit-ocracoke-about-new-beach-access-changes/ 

Maritime forest a thorny issue for Sullivan's Island
http://www.postandcourier.com/news/maritime-forest-a-thorny-issue-for-sullivan-s-island/article_ca1e6ee6-d1cb-11e6-9dbe-e7e1c47244c4.html

N.C. 12 bridge to be built much faster and much cheaper than expected
http://pilotonline.com/news/local/transportation/n-c-bridge-to-be-built-much-faster-and-much/article_d5c815d5-0028-59d0-b1dc-54c26b029f71.html 

Contract awarded for bridge bypassing northern Rodanthe
https://outerbanksvoice.com/2017/01/16/contract-awarded-for-bridge-bypassing-northern-rodanthe/ 

Whales are washing up on Outer Banks beaches more often. Why? That's disputed.
http://pilotonline.com/news/local/environment/whales-are-washing-up-on-outer-banks-beaches-more-often/article_2c163baa-2136-573f-a2e4-0fe034947f0c.html


1/12/17
Topsail Beach to defend itself against resident lawsuit
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170111/topsail-beach-to-defend-itself-against-resident-lawsuit

County, state closing in on interim solution to Hatteras Inlet shoaling
http://islandfreepress.org/2017Archives/01.10.2017-CountyStateClosingInOnInterimSolutionToHatterasInletShoaling.html

Oak Island council approves beach-repair plan
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170110/oak-island-council-approves-beach-repair-plan

Oak Island council initiates sand program, lets wedding and parking rules alone 
http://stateportpilot.com/news/article_beb62810-d814-11e6-8e34-2fbae755b2b8.html 

Some Sea Pines homes could remain at risk for damage through next hurricane season (SC)
http://www.islandpacket.com/news/weather/hurricane/article125947379.html 

Obama administration denies seismic testing permits
http://www.obsentinel.com/news/obama-administration-denies-seismic-testing-permits/article_4b90e09c-d74b-11e6-a40a-0ba252dc0017.html 

Morehead City plans flood mitigation meeting
http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/article_dabbe83c-d7fc-11e6-9e97-13480cfc42bf.html


1/9/2017
Oak Island to decide how to replace dunes
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20170107/oak-island-to-decide-how-to-replace-dunes 

Getting to the Point
http://hatterasdesigns.net/PivotBlog/?e=410

Plans for seismic tests off Virginia coast rejected by federal officials
http://pilotonline.com/news/local/environment/plans-for-seismic-tests-off-virginia-coast-rejected-by-federal/article_3c52a259-9bd2-593c-ac3a-97b57a01be62.html

Federal agency rejects applications for seismic surveying
http://outerbanksvoice.com/2017/01/06/federal-agency-rejects-applications-for-seismic-surveying/ 


1/6/17
NEWS RELEASE - BOEM Denies Atlantic Seismic G&G Permits
https://www.boem.gov/press01062017/

Judge Halts Topsail Beach Building Permits
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/01/judge-halts-topsail-beach-building-permits/


1/5/2017
Old Christmas Trees Can Build New Dunes
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/01/old-christmas-trees-can-build-new-dunes/

Study: Coastal NC Officials Not Willing To Prepare For Sea Level Rise
http://wunc.org/post/study-coastal-nc-officials-not-willing-prepare-sea-level-rise#stream/0 

Hilton Head Island beach renourishment wraps up for the year
http://www.islandpacket.com/news/local/article123780499.html

How will Hunting Island be rebuilt?
http://www.islandpacket.com/news/local/community/beaufort-news/article124569579.html

Group Urges Denial of Seismic Permits
http://www.coastalreview.org/2017/01/group-urges-denial-seismic-permits/ 

Activists disappointed new drilling ban excludes N.C.
http://www.obsentinel.com/news/not-in-our-waters/article_78a0012a-d1c0-11e6-afc8-5b7d0d965ce2.html


1/2/17
The push is on to improve tide forecasts across Hampton Roads
http://pilotonline.com/news/local/environment/the-push-is-on-to-improve-tide-forecasts-across-hampton/article_8be430b8-e686-5e0e-af8b-10428f34406a.html 

Public meetings planned on preliminary flood insurance rate maps (Dare Co.)
http://islandfreepress.org/2016Archives/12.30.2016-PublicMeetingsPlannedOnPreliminaryFloodInsuranceRateMaps.html 

Isle of Palms $19 million beach renourishment plan under review
http://www.postandcourier.com/news/isle-of-palms-million-beach-renourishment-plan-under-review/article_4764546c-c630-11e6-a489-df193c331db3.html 

The Air Force demolished 15 Civil War cannonballs in Charleston. But should they have?
http://www.postandcourier.com/news/the-air-force-demolished-civil-war-cannonballs-in-charleston-but/article_b573c4f6-c3dd-11e6-8d07-ff9898689408.html 

Several opportunities to recycle Christmas trees
http://www.jdnews.com/news/20170102/several-opportunities-to-recycle-christmas-trees 

Carolina Beach recycling Christmas trees to shore up dune systems 
http://portcitydaily.com/2017/01/01/carolina-beach-recycling-christmas-trees-to-shore-up-dune-systems/

12/30/16
Trees add ongoing protection to beach dunes
http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/article_6dd1d762-cd17-11e6-bc6f-270b8b51c1ff.html 

Future of beach sand, financing the subject of January 4 Oak Island Town Council session
http://stateportpilot.com/news/article_9725fb1e-cd2d-11e6-bcf3-1749a3da6f06.html 

Sea turtles, shrimp fishermen tangled in government's net proposal
http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20161228/sea-turtles-shrimp-fishermen-tangled-in-governments-net-proposal 

Charleston-area beach parks struggle to recover from Hurricane Matthew
http://www.postandcourier.com/news/charleston-area-beach-parks-struggle-to-recover-from-hurricane-matthew/article_eff4a112-c302-11e6-b011-774f780d26ef.html