The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday began accepting comments on its draft Climate Change Adaption Plan, a document that seeks to integrate climate change considerations into future programs and regulations.

The 55-page draft essentially examines the ways the agency’s programs are vulnerable to changing climate and how it can adapt to continue meeting its mission of protecting human health and the environment. It stems from a June 2011 policy statement on climate change adaption, issued in response to a 2009 government directive that required agencies to plan for future climate change this year.

The EPA is one of more than 20 federal agencies that form the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. It is co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It has been charged with developing recommendations to the president on how the federal government can strengthen policies and programs to better prepare the nation for the impacts of climate change.

Last week, as it posted the second year of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions data on its website, the EPA said power plants remain the largest stationary source of GHG emissions, with 2,221 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (mmtCO2e)—or roughly one-third of total U.S. emissions. The data was collected through the congressionally mandated Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reporting Program, and it includes information from facilities in 41 source categories that emit large quantities of greenhouse gases.

On Dec. 7, 2009, former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (whose service to the agency ends today) signed a final action, under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, finding that six key well-mixed GHGs constitute a threat to public health and welfare. On March 27, 2012, the agency proposed a Carbon Pollution Standard for New Power Plants that would, for the first time, set national limits on the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can emit. The proposed rule applies only to new fossil fuel–fired electric utility generating units and it is set to be finalized this April.

In May 13, 2010, the EPA set GHG emissions thresholds to define when permits under the New Source Review Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Operating Permit programs are required for new and existing industrial facilities. That final rule "tailors" the requirements of these Clean Air Act permitting programs to limit covered facilities to the nation’s largest GHG emitters, including power plants.

The public may provide comment on the draft document within 60 days through the agency’s docket system at The docket number is EPA-HQ-OA-2012-0247.

Sources: POWERnews, EPA