This map depicts the area of Banks Channel that lies within the Coastal Barrier Resources Act zone.

NC - Rule Change May Threaten Coastal Areas

The U.S. Department of Interior Secretary’s reversal of a rule that limited where sand within federally restricted coastal zones may be placed is a change that makes good economic sense, proponents say, but one that environmentalists say is a step backward in protecting sensitive coastal resources.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced late last year that federal funds can be used to pay for dredging sand within Coastal Barrier Resources Act units and then placing that sand on beaches outside of CBRA zones for shoreline stabilization projects.

Bernhardt’s decision overturns a 1994 Interior Department solicitor’s opinion, which concluded that in order to qualify for federal funds, sand in a CBRA zone had to stay within that CBRA zone.

His decision also overrides a 2016 interpretation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which “stalled” and “ballooned” the costs of coastal storm damage reduction projects, “despite the Service in 1996 having previously allowed sand recycling” from certain CBRA units, according to a letter signed by three congressmen, including U.S. Rep. David Rouzer, a Republican from North Carolina’s 7th District.

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