July 3, 2014

The Post’s June 25 front-page article “Turning back the climate clock” left me flabbergasted. A study, authored in part by a distinguished professor, that forecasts a dramatic rise in sea level along North Carolina’s Outer Banks has been discarded. The study indicated that thousands of structures worth millions of dollars would be lost over the next several decades. Residents of the Outer Banks were not happy with this study and persuaded the state legislature to disregard it. The governor has appointed a new coastal commission chairman, “an oil and gas man,” to oversee a new study and issue a new forecast.

It is sadly ironic that a fossil-fuel expert is being asked to play down a scientific prediction of dangerous rising seas when the climate-change symptom of rising seas is essentially caused by the burning of fossil fuels. How can the residents of the Outer Banks be comforted by such bureaucratic jockeying?

Sally Courtright, Albany, N.Y.

There is disagreement about rising sea levels on the North Carolina coast, but there is one reform that all policymakers should support: ending subsidies that promote building in high-risk places. For decades, the National Flood Insurance Program has allowed people on the sea coasts to buy insurance with premiums less than half the market level, and the program does not cut off people even after multiple floods. Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers continually rebuilds beaches, thus encouraging development in areas that nature is trying to reclaim. Ending this wave of subsidies would be sound fiscal and environmental policy.

Chris Edwards, Washington

The writer is an economist at the Cato Institute.