Bill opening coastal zone to new industry faces final vote

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A bill opening Delaware’s environmentally protected coastal zone to new heavy industry is facing a final vote in the General Assembly.

The bill, which easily cleared the House last week, is scheduled for a Senate vote Thursday.

The legislation, supported by Democratic Gov. John Carney, establishes a permitting process for new use of 14 existing industry sites, including abandoned and polluted brownfields.

Supporters of the bill, including the state chamber of commerce and organized labor, say restrictions on industry under the 1971 Coastal Zone Act have been an impediment to economic development.

Environmentalists argue that the existing law has played a key role in protecting ecologically sensitive areas along the Delaware River and Bay, as well as coastal beach resorts that are the linchpins of Delaware’s multibillion-dollar tourism industry.

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