Obama creates climate change task force as EPA announces draft plans

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2013 - President Obama signed an executive order today to create a Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its draft Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans for public review and comment.

EPA said, in support of Obama's climate action plan and executive order, its implementation plans provide detailed information about the actions the agency plans to take across the country to help communities adapt to a changing climate.

The White House said the task force will advise the administration on how the federal government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change. The task force members include state, local and tribal leaders, who are expected to use their first-hand experiences in building climate preparedness and resilience in their communities.

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The White House said the nation has “a moral obligation to our children and future generations to leave them a planet that is not polluted or damaged.”

This action follows Obama's announcement in June to launch a climate action plan to cut carbon pollution, prepare communities for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address the global challenge.

The EPA said its draft Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans recognize the agency must integrate climate adaptation planning into its programs, policies, rules, and operations to ensure that the agency's work continues to be effective even as the climate changes.

“To meet our mission of protecting public health and the environment, EPA must help communities adapt to a changing climate,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “These Implementation Plans offer a roadmap for agency work to meet that responsibility, while carrying out President Obama's goal of preparing the country for climate-related challenges.”

EPA said the impacts of a changing climate - including increased extreme weather, floods, and droughts - affect its work to protect clean air and water.

The agency released a draft Climate Adaption Plan in February. The new implementation plans, released today, seeks to provide information about how EPA will meet the agency-wide priorities identified in the draft Climate Adaptation Plan. The comment period on EPA's draft Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans closes on Jan. 3, 2014.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, welcomed the administration's new climate adaption measures.

“As events like Superstorm Sandy, recent wildfires, and historic droughts have taught us, climate change is real and the effects can be devastating,” Carper said. “I often like to say that we need to move beyond treating symptoms and start treating the underlying disease and so I am glad that President Obama's Climate Action Plan focuses on ‘treating' both the causes and impacts of extreme weather.”

Carper said the administration's actions will direct agencies to conduct a review of ways to cut emissions while providing the means and data communities need to prepare for the effects of climate change.

“As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail, and that's certainly true when it comes to mitigating the effects of climate change,” Carper said.

According to the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), Carper noted, extreme weather events, such as Superstorm Sandy and the 2012 drought, have increased in frequency over the last 50 years and are expected to continue to become more common, more intense and more costly to the federal government and to states and municipalities.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency has obligated over $80 billion in federal assistance for disasters declared during fiscal years 2004 through 2011. Carper said preemptive steps such as creating natural storm barriers like dunes and wetlands and building our roads and bridges with rising sea levels in mind, will make communities and infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather, which will save money in the long run.

The EPA's draft Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans can be viewed here.

The EPA's draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan can be viewed here.

Information on Obama's executive order can be viewed here.

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