Outer Banks storms are sending a message. North Carolina isn’t listening.

·3 min read

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Time to heed what NC 12 is telling us

The writer is a professor emeritus of Earth Sciences at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.

Regarding “‘Sharks are in the collards!’ King tides, winds flood NC’s Outer Banks, photos show,” (Nov. 8) and related articles

On Nov. 7 another nor’easter struck the Outer Banks, once again demonstrating the ever-increasing hazard of living on these low, narrow barrier islands.

The storm occurred simultaneously with an extreme high tide, pushed up by the ongoing sea-level rise. Historically, such superpositions of storm/tide/sea-level are not uncommon.

By 9 a.m. Nov. 7 portions of N.C. Highway 12 were either flooded or buried by sand overwash. The highway was closed from Rodanthe north to the Marc Basnight Bridge at Oregon Inlet, about 13 miles. Crews pushed sand off the road for two days before Highway 12 completely reopened on the afternoon of Nov. 9.

Given that this was not a major storm, mandatory evacuation wasn’t necessary. But if anyone had needed to escape by vehicle from the Outer Banks, the blockage made such impossible.

An NCDOT spokesperson characterized the storm as “probably a little worse than usual.”

Major storms are certainly in the future of the Outer Banks with even higher high tides that will again prevent lifesaving evacuation.

An economist must wonder why property values remain high under such a losing situation? A realist must wonder why property owners aren’t deciding it’s time to “get out of Dodge?”

The time has come to discourage further development, to consider moving some existing development out of harm’s way, and for everyone on the Outer Banks to contemplate the mounting losses that they will experience with the coming of the storms on time’s horizon.

A systematic plan for moving off the Outer Banks is a necessity and overdue.

Orrin H. Pilkey, Raleigh

NC needs to act fast on RGGI

The writer is a former Charlotte mayor.

As the U.N. climate summit in Scotland comes to a close, the writing is on the wall when it comes to climate change — and every North Carolinian has felt it.

Recent weather disasters have led North Carolina to be in the top two states for the cost of recovery, second to Texas. Recent data from NOAA confirms that the summer of 2021 was the hottest on record. And just ask anyone in western North Carolina about the toll that severe flooding took on their communities this season.

We know that power plants are by far the biggest emitters of the pollution that contributes to climate change. Implementing a system to make polluters pay for what they emit will help. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will do just that.

RGGI incentivizes power plants to rapidly transition to cleaner renewable energy sources. It also funds energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in communities that need them most.

Other states are already leveraging RGGI. In one year, RGGI has already yielded $43 million that Virginia can invest in energy efficiency, renewable energy and resilience projects. Those earnings will reach $109 million by year’s end.

Virginia legislators allocated about half of the year’s projected funds to fund energy efficiency programs for low-income households. Community nonprofits are actively repairing and weatherizing homes, providing significant energy savings for struggling families.

Communities that could benefit most from projects funded by RGGI are ones who’ve for years faced more than their share of the harmful impacts of power plant pollution. RGGI is our chance to do something significant about those injustices.

Today, utilities can pollute North Carolina’s air for free. RGGI puts a price tag on it, billing the polluters and using that money to help communities who’ve been paying the price for the harmful impacts of power plant pollution for years.

North Carolina’s Environmental Management Commission (EMC) voted in August to move forward with a process to evaluate how RGGI might be structured in our state. It’s urgent to get RGGI in place in our state as soon as possible.

Jennifer Roberts, Charlotte

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