DOVER, Del. - A proposal to open Delaware's environmentally protected coastal zone to new heavy industry has cleared its first legislative hurdle.
The bill cleared a House committee Wednesday despite complaints from environmental groups and other opponents about the lack of public input.
The bill establishes a permitting process for new use of 14 existing industry sites, including abandoned and polluted brownfields.
It also allows the currently prohibited transfer of bulk products such as oil and minerals at sites that had docking facilities or piers before enactment of the Coastal Zone Act in 1971.
Supporters, including Gov. John Carney, say the bill could spur manufacturing and job creation.
The bill does not allow certain heavy industry uses that did not exist in 1971, but the Delaware City oil refinery would remain grandfathered.
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