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Prominent Coastal Geologist Quits Science Advisory Panel

Stan Riggs
Courtesy of East Carolina University

A prominent member of a science advisory panel of the Coastal Resources Commission has resigned.

Stan Riggs says he's no longer willing to fight what he calls an "uphill battle" against state leaders who are making poor long-term decisions about the coast.

"The science panel has been ineffective and it's been sort of shut down, so I'm not going to waste any more of my time dealing with that science panel," said Riggs, a coastal geologist.

Riggs, a faculty member at East Carolina University and a frequent critic of over-development on the coast, helped create the panel 20 years ago.

In 2010, the panel delivered a report on sea-level rise along the North Carolina coast. State leaders quickly discredited the report and ordered a new one that looked only 30 years into the future.

Riggs said political concerns have since "defrocked" the science panel and rendered it ineffective.

"We're the laughingstock of the country, not for just what's gone on sea-level rise, but for what's gone on with other issues as well," he said.

The science panel has not met in over a year, since the second report was delivered.

Frank Gorham, the chair of the Coastal Resources Commission, has not said when he will name a replacement for Riggs.

Riggs is the third well-regarded coastal geologist to leave the science panel in the past several years. Antonio Rodriguez, of the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences, and Rob Young, of Western Carolina University, have also left the panel.

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