Tuesday, February 12, 2013

US environment agency releases first climate adaptation plan

Carey L. Biron in AlertNet via IPS: For the first time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has publicly released a draft plan on how the department's programmes will adapt to global warming, in a move that could lay additional groundwork for important new emissions rulemaking the agency may announce in coming months.

 Obama is being urged to set new carbon standards on U.S. power plants, cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by at least a quarter by 2020. Credit: public domain

The EPA is tasked with oversight of the health of both human communities and natural systems, mandated with creating and implementing standards relating to air and water quality, among others. As such, the agency has emerged at the frontlines of Washington's attempts to push through stricter climate-related regulations while circumventing the U.S. Congress, which remains fractious and politicised over the reality of human responsibility for global warming.

"We're happy the government is finally waking up to the cold, hard reality of climate change and seeing its impacts," Elizabeth Perera, a Washington climate policy expert with the Sierra Club, an environment advocacy group, told IPS. "The more real and specific that you can talk about these impacts, the more we think there will be a fire lit under the government to do something on the action side. On climate change, you have to remember, we're talking about major costs across all parts of the government and economy."

The draft plan comes in response to a government-wide requirement, mandated through executive order in 2009 by President Barack Obama, in which this year all U.S. government agencies are required to file climate change-related adaptation plans with a newly created office within the White House, the Council on Environmental Quality.

Each of these plans will now be open to public comment for two months, although the plan by the EPA is expected to garner some of the most significant public scrutiny. According to a five-year plan, adaptation planning is to be integrated across the EPA's operations by 2015....

No comments: