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July 20, 2016 by Alejandro Camacho

On Climate Change Preparation, Record of Land Management Agencies Is Mixed

Whether it's raging wildfires in the West, catastrophic flooding in the East and Upper Midwest, or rising sea levels on the coasts, there is no question that climate change is affecting and will continue to significantly impact our public lands and the resources they both provide and protect. As a nation, we need to be prepared for these changes and find effective ways to adapt. 

To develop a snapshot of the scope and efficacy of such efforts thus far, we assessed the extent to which each of the four principal federal land management agencies – the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management – have (or have not) started preparing, whether through regulatory standards or otherwise, for the anticipated adverse impacts of climate change on the lands and resources under their jurisdictions. 

After surveying the four agencies' activities, we concluded that the Forest Service, a multiple-use agency whose policies have at times raised fears that it had been captured by the timber industry, is actually well ahead of the Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service – whose missions are primarily to protect and preserve their natural …

May 27, 2010 by Alejandro Camacho
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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 …

May 14, 2010 by Alejandro Camacho
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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:

  1. a Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Panel, headed by the chair of the CEQ and including the heads of federal public land and natural resource agencies, to develop and implement a National Resources Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
  2. data gathering on adaptation to be coordinated between NOAA’s National Climate Service, a National Climate Change and Wildlife …

Nov. 9, 2009 by Alejandro Camacho
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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 …

Oct. 7, 2009 by Alejandro Camacho
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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 …

Sept. 18, 2009 by Alejandro Camacho
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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:

  1. A “Climate Change Response Council” to coordinate and develop the Department’s strategy for responding to the effects of climate change, advancing methods for geologic and biologic carbon sequestration, and estimating and reducing the Department’s carbon footprint.
  2. Eight “Regional Climate Change Response Centers” to synthesize data on climate change effects and develop tools for managers to use to manage resources in light of climate change.
  3. “Landscape Conservation Cooperatives” to coordinate regional adaptation efforts across landscapes.

The secretarial order also replaces Secretarial Order No. 3226 created in January 2009 by the outgoing Bush administration and reinstates Secretarial Order No …

May 5, 2009 by Alejandro Camacho
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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 …

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