Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, applauded Wednesday's announced actions by President Barack Obama to help states and communities prepare for the impacts of climate change by building smarter and developing more resilient infrastructure.
Several of these actions and recommendations are included in Capps-authored legislation, including the Coastal State Climate Change Planning Act (H.R. 764), the Water System Resiliency and Sustainability Act (H.R. 765) and the Climate Change Health Promotion and Protection Act (H.R. 2023).
These executive actions stem from early work done by the president’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Last November, President Obama established the Task Force, which Capps first called for in a February 2013 letter to the president. The Task Force is made up of 26 officials from across the country, including Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal.
The president’s plan provides federal resources to support climate preparedness, to help communities rebuild stronger and safer after natural disasters, to build more resilient communities, and to protect individuals from the health impacts associated with climate change.
“Today’s announcement shows the President is serious about responding to climate change,” Capps said. “I applaud his efforts, and the efforts of the task force, to better equip our communities who are already being affected. I am happy to see that some of the actions I have been calling for in Congress will be implemented by federal agencies. These actions will help coastal states like California plan and implement important climate change mitigation projects, strengthen the resiliency of our drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems and prepare our public health system for the increased demand and stress from climate change impacts.”
“President Obama has demonstrated great leadership by working with state, local, and tribal governments in preparing for a future with a changing climate, and it has been an honor for me to collaborate with a diverse group of local officials in support of these efforts,” Carbajal said. “I also applaud Congresswoman Capps both for her advocacy in support of the creation of the Task Force and for being a champion in Congress for many of the recommended actions that have resulted from the work of the Task Force.”
Three of the actions reflect provisions in Capps-authored legislation and reflect her long-standing priorities for climate change mitigation and adaptation:
» Making our coasts more resilient;
» Improving stormwater management; and
» Assessing climate-related health hazards.
Making Our Coasts More Resilient
The Coastal State Climate Change Planning Act, H.R. 764, was introduced by Rep. Capps to help coastal states plan and implement climate change mitigation projects. Coastal counties are home to more than 50 percent of the U.S. population and provide 58 percent of the country’s GDP, with nearly 5 million Americans living within four feet of the high tide level.
The Coastal State Climate Change Planning Act would address the challenges faced by these communities by supporting their efforts to voluntarily modify their current coastal management plans to address climate change impacts. Additionally, states could use grant funding to implement climate change adaptation strategies, such as identifying areas of greatest risk and developing performance measures for protecting infrastructure and coastal ecosystems.
Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced new program guidance under Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act to ensure greater consideration of how climate change may exacerbate challenges in the management of coastal areas. Through this effort, $1.5 million of competitive funding will be available to help states and tribes make improvements to their coastal management programs. The guidance will help state and tribal coastal managers better prepare for the impacts of climate change and improve the safety of their communities. More information is available here.
Assessing Climate-Related Health Hazards
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today released a new guide, “Assessing Health Vulnerability to Climate Change,” to help public health departments assess local vulnerabilities to health hazards associated with climate change. The assessments will help inform targeted public health actions to reduce the health impacts of climate change.
This new guide reflects provisions in the Climate Change Health Promotion and Protection Act, H.R. 2023, which Capps introduced. That bill would support research, planning, and interagency coordination to develop a national plan to help local public health professionals prepare for and respond to the public health effects of climate change.
Improving Stormwater Management
The Water System Resiliency and Sustainability Act, H.R. 765, was introduced by Rep. Capps to help drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities prepare for the impacts of climate-related risks on their operations. Under the framework created by the legislation, each year EPA would request adaptation projects from drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities, and award matching funds to those projects that help utilities address the most significant climate-related risks and benefit the largest numbers of water users.
Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a Green Infrastructure Collaborative among government agencies, NGOs, and other private sector entities to advance green stormwater infrastructure. Green infrastructure, such as urban forests and rooftop gardens, can be used as an important tool for building resilience to climate change impacts like increased precipitation and heat island effects. Federal agencies will provide funding assistance in at least 25 communities across the country for green infrastructure projects, technical assistance to create integrated green stormwater management and hazard mitigation plans, and recognition and awards programs for innovative green infrastructure projects.
— Chris Meagher is the press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.