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Politics & Government

Coastal Zone Act revision heads to Delaware Senate

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Delaware Public Media
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House lawmakers signed off on a bill Tuesday to loosen up the Coastal Zone Act.

Those opposing the measure tried in vain to convince their fellow lawmakers that opening up the Coastal Zone Act wouldn’t make the 14 polluted sites targeted in the bill any cleaner.

Under the proposal, any business applying for a permit to set up shop in those sites next to the coast – nearly all of them in New Castle County – would have to show how it would scrub the area of legacy pollution.

But Rep. John Kowalko (D-Newark South) says it’s not worth allowing new heavy industries in these areas.

“A net production of more pollution does not benefit the future of the environment,” Kowalko said.

But Rep. Ed Osienski (D-Newark), who sponsors the bill, says technology has advanced enough to waive those concerns.

“I do think that the industries have made some major improvements when it comes to what used to be here and what damage they have done,” Osienski said.

Business groups and a bipartisan smattering of lawmakers have been calling for changes to the Coastal Zone Act for years, saying it would create new jobs to revitalize Delaware’s economy.

As a way to ease opponents’ fears, Osienski amended the bill to forbid any new businesses from becoming a bulk product depot – shipping in items like oil, sand or grain, storing it and shipping it out without using it.

Gov. John Carney supports the bill, but first needs Senate approval. 

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