New Executive Order Seeks to Increase Climate Resilience

An executive order signed by President Obama today requires federal agencies to promote the “dual goals” of a greater resilience to climate change and a removal of barriers to carbon-curbing measures, including carbon sequestration.

Climate change impacts that include “prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise,” are already affecting the nation, the order declares. Managing these risks will require “deliberate preparation” and “close cooperation and coordinated planning” by the federal government and stakeholders, it says.

The order establishes a “Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience” that will include senior officials from various agencies while calling on all federal agencies to promote strong partnerships and information sharing at all levels, and “risk-informed decision making.”

But it also requires, by July 2014, that the heads of the Departments of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NOAA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Army Corps of Engineers complete an assessment of proposed and completed changes to their land- and water-related policies, programs, and rules that are needed to make the nation’s watersheds and natural resources more resilient in the face of a changing climate.  The assessment must include a timeline and plan for making those, the order says.

The executive action is part of President’s Obama’s June-announced Climate Action Plan. The plan outlines three primary goals: slashing U.S. carbon pollution through stringent rules for new and existing power plants while doubling renewables deployment and promoting fuel switching from coal to natural gas; preparing the U.S. for impacts of climate change; and leading international efforts to combat global climate change.

This September, the EPA issued a revised proposal to curb carbon emissions from new power plants that sets separate standards for new gas-fired and coal-fired power plants. It also revealed it is developing new carbon standards for existing power plants.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the Treasury Department issued a revised technical guidance that declares an end to U.S. support for  multilateral development bank (MDB) funding for new overseas coal projects except in “narrowly defined circumstances.”


Sonal Patel, associate editor(@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)

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