State environmental officials have begun the process for developing regulations for new industry in Delaware's environmentally protected coastal zone.
A new law enacted this year establishes a permitting process for new use of 14 existing industry sites within the zone, including abandoned brownfields.
State environmental secretary Shawn Garvin signed a notice last week starting the regulatory development process to implement permitting for land use conversion within the coastal zone.
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Supporters of the new law say restrictions on industry under the 1971 Coastal Zone Act have been an impediment to economic development.
Environmentalists have argued 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.