Even if a climate change bill like Kerry-Lieberman were to become law, the effects of climate change will still be dramatic, making adaptation a crucial complement to mitigation activities for addressing climate change. As specialists on local conditions with the capacity to innovate at a smaller scale, state and local authorities need to retain the authority to adopt adaptation strategies that prevent, reduce, and manage the effects that climate change will have on vulnerable natural resources under their jurisdiction. Though a federal role in adaptation planning is indispensable, it would be unwise to excessively tie the states’ hands in promoting natural resource adaptation. Unfortunately, Kerry-Lieberman and Waxman-Markey (ACES) risk doing just that by centralizing adaptation in a new federal authority. The bills should be written to encourage robust state and local action to formulate and implement natural resource adaptation measures.
Kerry-Lieberman and ACES, adopted in the House last year, seek to consolidate authority over adaptation planning in the President and Secretary of the Interior. Both bills seek to significantly increase executive oversight and control over federal and state natural resource adaptation. Though only ACES creates a National Climate Change Adaptation Program in the existing U.S. Global Change Research Program and a National Climate Service in NOAA to develop and disseminate climate information, both bills establish a Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Panel (see my previous post comparing the bills’ adaptation provisions). The Panel, headed by the chair of the CEQ and including the heads of federal public land and natural resource agencies, is given authority to develop and implement a National Resources Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. The bills also require adaptation plans for each federal natural resource agency that implement and are consistent with the Strategy. Similarly, state natural resources adaptation plans, required for any state to be eligible for federal funding, must be reviewed and approved by the Secretary of the Interior.Full text
Though in many respects similar to provisions in the House-approved American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) bill and the prior Boxer-Kerry bill in the Senate, the adaptation program proposed in the newly released Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act substantially decreases funding for federal and state adaptation programs and eliminates provisions establishing a public health adaptation program.
Like its predecessors, Kerry-Lieberman’s adaptation program, included in large part in Title IV, §§6001-6011, incorporates a number of provision focused on managing the effects of climate change on natural resources in the United States:
Though these adaptation provisions may be an improvement over the status quo, they nonetheless retain many of the same key weaknesses as those in ACES and Boxer-Kerry that I and others have detailed here and here. In addition, Kerry-Lieberman eliminates a number of significant provisions adopted in ACES. These include:Full text
Though few agencies or legislatures have begun to actually develop programs for cultivating adaptation to climate change, at least discussions on climate change adaptation are starting to take place. Unfortunately, as I detail in a forthcoming article, adaptation is still being given short shrift at local, state and federal levels of government, and those who are considering it lack the information and tools to engage in proactive adaptation.
Some of the key developments on adaptation in the past few weeks include:
1. A GAO report and legislative hearings detailing the poor existing capacity for adapting to climate change in the United States.
The General Accountability Office released a report that surveyed local, state and federal officials, concluding that federal and other government agencies are ill-prepared for adaptation to the effects of climate change. Consistent with my earlier research, the study found that few federal agencies are developing adaptation strategies, and those state and local governments that are considering adaptation planning lack the resources, site-specific data, and metrics to do so. In large part this is because of a lack of public awareness and leadership in Congress and among federal agencies about the importance of adaptation planning. In addition, the study found that 70% of 180 federal, state and local government official respondents were concerned regarding the lack of clarity on the roles and responsibilities of various regulatory authorities in adaptation planning. The report recommended that the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Office of Science and Technology Policy develop a national strategy to coordinate federal, state and local government adaptation activities. The GAO recommended that the strategy include (1) clarifying the roles of agencies at all government levels, (2) providing resources for plan implementation, (3) improving data collection, in particular site-specific data, and (3) training and educating government officials and the general public.Full text
This post is the sixth in a series from CPR Member Scholars examining different aspects of the Boxer-Kerry bill on climate change, which was released September 30.
Though the Boxer-Kerry bill's take on climate change adaptation is similar to the approach adopted by the House of Representatives through the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), a number of significant features are different (see my post from May, with Holly Doremus, analyzing an early version of that bill's provisions on adaptation). Like ACES, the Boxer-Kerry bill seeks more centralized executive oversight of federal and state natural resource adaptation, but it drops a number of details from ACES on international and domestic adaptation while adding several new funding programs for state and utility adaptation efforts. In the end, the adaptation provisions are an important step, but have some of the same key weaknesses as those in ACES.
Like ACES, this bill’s climate adaptation section, included in large part in Title III, §§341-384, would include or require:
This new framework would mark a substantial shift in natural resource management in the United States, leading to a significant centralization of decision-making authority over natural resources. Not only would all federal natural resource adaptation plans have to be consistent with the National Resources Climate Change Adaptation Strategy; any state that would like to receive federal funding to assist it to adapt its natural resources to the effects of climate change would have to submit its plan to the Interior Department. More significantly, to be approved a state’s adaptation plan would have to be consistent with the detailed provisions of the bill on state plans as well as the adopted federal National Resources Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.Full text
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed a secretarial order on Monday establishing a new department-wide strategy for gathering data and developing management options to help managers cope with the effects of climate change on resources governed by the Interior Department. The order seeks to initiate three components:
The secretarial order also replaces Secretarial Order No. 3226 created in January 2009 by the outgoing Bush administration and reinstates Secretarial Order No. 3226 created in January 2001 by the outgoing Clinton administration. The Clinton administration had ordered each Department of Interior bureau to consider and analyze potential climate change impacts when undertaking long-range planning efforts or multi-year management plans. The Bush Administration's DOI essentially ignored that, and now Secretary Salazar is seeking to resurrect the directive.
The program certainly is an improvement on the Department’s preceding approach to addressing the effects of climate change.
The Department’s various bureaus have often simply ignored the effects of climate change in planning or permitting activities, and even those that have been analyzing its effects have failed to develop any management strategies to prepare for and minimize these effects.Full text
On Thursday, Rep. Raul Grijalva introduced HR 2192, a bill on adapting to the impacts of climate change. The law would establish a "Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Panel" that would create a plan for several federal agencies to anticipate and seek to mitigate the effects of a changed planet.
The bill is very similar to the natural resource adaptation provisions (Title IV, Subtitle E, Subpart C) in the Waxman-Markey draft climate change legislation. Those provisions were a good start, though certainly not perfect (Holly Doremus and I previously analyzed the good and the bad of those provisions here).
E&E News reported (subscription required) that Grijalva's bill, along with a separate one in the works in the House Science Committee, are "expected to be voted on before Memorial Day and eventually to be folded into [Waxman-Markey]." If it came to it, should Waxman-Markey stumble, this bill could go ahead separately.Full text