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Murray, state GOP criticize environmental regulation of coastal industry

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
An active plan sign at a property in the grandfathered Coastal Zone heavy industrial area in New Castle

The state Republican party is taking aim at state environmental regulations ahead of next month’s election. 

State GOP Chair Jane Brady held a press conference Thursday to criticize the Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act which Gov. John Carney signed in 2017.

The law allows additional heavy industry in 14 grandfathered sites within Delaware’s regulated Coastal Zone.  Several environmental groups opposed it, arguing additional heavy industry in the Coastal Zone would be harmful to the public. But the state GOP thinks it was not permissive enough to industry.


Brady objects to a provision in the regulations written after the law passed that limits permits to twenty years. 

“At the end of that time, after spending millions of dollars for clean up and millions of dollars to build your business, you would have to get permission again to continue doing business,” said Brady. “No business wants to continue doing business under those circumstances. So there’s been no interest.”

Credit Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
An active plans sign for the Diamond State Port Corporation's planned container port in the grandfathered heavy industrial area in Edgemoor

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has granted three coastal zone permits, some to existing operations, since the new regulations went into effect last September. 

Credit Courtesy of FirstMap Delaware
Courtesy of FirstMap Delaware
Most of the grandfathered heavy industrial areas (outlined in red) under the Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act are in northern Delaware. The Coastal Zone is shown in pink. (Click to enlarge)

Julianne Murray is running on a pro-business platform to unseat Carney in next month’s election. She says the Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act fits into a pattern of state government “chasing” big business out of Delaware with high taxes, high energy costs and regulations.

“This is a perfect example of something that looks like it’s going to be beneficial, because it says, ‘Let’s get rolling, let’s get the environment cleanup done, let's boost industry’,” she said. “But on the back end, it’s not practical.”

Murray says she would look to extend the length of permits in the Coastal Zone, or somehow guarantee that they would be renewed. 

The advisory committee that helped shape the regulations last y ear said the permit duration limit would be necessary because of the “scale, complexity, and potential impacts of Conversion Permits.”



Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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