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WFAE reporter David Boraks explores how the way we live influences climate change and its impact across the Carolinas. You also can read additional national and international climate news.

Gov. Cooper orders update to rules for state buildings in flood areas

09122018 Hurricane Florence.jpg
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
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Hurricane Florence nears the Carolinas in September 2018. Gov. Cooper's order requires a new study of the risks of state-owned buildings to flooding from storms and sea-level rise.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has ordered an update of construction rules for state-owned buildings that takes into account the effects of sea level rise and climate change.

Cooper on Monday signed Executive Order 266, which gives state agencies 18 months to revise the state’s floodplain management policy. It sets construction standards for state-owned buildings in flood-prone areas. The policy has not been updated for 32 years.

“Climate change is causing more intense storms and flooding so this update on floodplain management and construction requirements will save taxpayer money, protect structures and keep workers safer,” Cooper said in a statement.

Cooper wants rules that would assess risk for buildings at the coast or near inland waterways, reduce construction in those areas, and set cost-effective building standards. The order also calls for developing standards for natural flood controls.

Meanwhile, Cooper also wants to study expanding the requirements to other state-funded construction projects.

It's the latest in a series of executive orders by Cooper aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.

The state Department of Administration will work with the departments of environmental quality and transportation and the Department of Public Safety's Emergency Management Division and the Office of Recovery and Resiliency to develop the new standards.

A report by federal climate scientists in February projects that sea levels along the U.S. coast will rise an average of 10 to 12 inches by 2050 - as much as the total increase over the past century. Severe floods that now happen every four or five years will happen four to five times a year, the report said.

Climate change also has brought more severe storms and flooding across the state.

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.