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Obama: Climate Change Is a Threat to U.S. Infrastructure

Alexis Petru
| Monday July 21st, 2014 | 4 Comments
President Barack Obama met with the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience last week.

President Barack Obama met with the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience last week.

More extreme droughts, floods and wildfires – these are just some of the impacts of climate change that won’t just occur in the distant future to our great-great grandchildren, but are happening now. To address the changing climate’s current effects on communities in the U.S., President Barack Obama announced a plan to strengthen national infrastructure and help cities, states and tribal communities better prepare for and recover from natural disasters.

“Climate change poses a direct threat to the infrastructure of America that we need to stay competitive in this 21st-century economy,” Obama said last week at a meeting of the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. “That means that we should see this as an opportunity to do what we should be doing anyway, and that’s modernizing our infrastructure, modernizing our roads, modernizing our bridges, power grids, our transit systems, and making sure that they’re more resilient. That’s going to be good for commerce, and it’s obviously going to be good for communities.”

Obama unveiled over $260 million in federal funds to help communities build their climate adaptation and resilience. The U.S. Geological Survey and other federal agencies are dedicating $13 million to develop an advanced 3-D mapping tool of the country that communities can use to identify which areas and infrastructure are at risk from changing climatic conditions, the White House said in a statement. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will also be spending $236 million to improve rural electric infrastructure in eight states – an investment that will not only allow the deployment of smart grid technologies, but can also attract businesses and residents to these communities, according to the White House.

The USDA is also setting aside additional funding to safeguard drinking water in rural communities during droughts, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs will dedicate $10 million to provide climate adaptation trainings to tribes.

The White House also gave more details about the $1 million National Disaster Resilience Competition Obama announced last month. Based on the success of the Rebuild by Design competition after Hurricane Sandy, this initiative will encourage communities to come up with innovative programs to recover from extreme weather events and prepare for future disasters; the best programs will serve as models of modern disaster recovery for other communities to adopt themselves.

To help communities bolster coastal infrastructure like seawalls and natural barriers in advance of natural disasters, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will make $1.5 million of competitive funding available for states and tribes, the White House said. And the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investing in green storm water infrastructure, like urban forests and rooftop gardens, which can help mitigate the increased rain and heat island effects exacerbated by climate change. The EPA will be launching its new Green Infrastructure Collaborative to fund green storm water infrastructure projects in 25 communities across the U.S.

The White House also announced a series of pilot projects to address climate resilience and disaster recovery: The Federal Emergency Management Agency will work with communities struck by natural disaster to recover from the events and better prepare for future ones, and the city of Houston and state of Colorado will partner with NASA and the Energy Department to identify their local climate-related vulnerabilities to better inform their disaster preparedness planning.

Finally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also released a new guide, “Assessing Health Vulnerability to Climate Change,” to help public health officials assess local climate-related health risks and take steps to reduce the health-related impacts of climate change.

The President said the climate adaptation actions he announced were part of his climate action plan and come two months after the administration released its National Climate Assessment report, which highlights that the country is experiencing climate change’s effects now. Despite a continued debate over the science of climate change and the severity of its impacts, the Obama administration has taken steps – although, many environmental advocates would argue, not nearly enough – to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint and build resilience to the changing climate.

“The bottom line is investing in our infrastructure, protecting our communities, ensuring the health and safety of our citizens — none of this should be a partisan issue,” Obama said to the task force, a group of 26 governors, mayors and county and tribal leaders the President convened in November. “This is something that Democrats, Republicans, independents all care about and the leaders who are sitting around this table prove that today and prove it every day.”

Image credit: Official White House photo by Amanda Lucidon

Passionate about both writing and sustainability, Alexis Petru is freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area whose work has appeared on Earth911, Huffington Post and Patch.com. Prior to working as a writer, she coordinated environmental programs for Bay Area cities and counties. Connect with Alexis on Twitter at @alexispetru


▼▼▼      4 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • Ted C

    To the only truth in this article is Obama is a threat to the American way of life. Climate change..that’s a hoax.

  • simonzee1

    You can get away with saying anything as a liberal just don’t talk of faith, conviction or morality or “common sense” because that’s the dirtiest of phrases.

    http://m.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/07/23/attack-of-the-chicago-climate-change-maggots/

    What a great title to an article but the content was not what I expected to be honest. “Attack of the Chicago Climate Change Maggots.”

    I expected the author to be talking about Obama “come lately” to this cause with other tax payer extorting schemes that only left wing extremists could imagine on environmental policy. Many are cooked up in what used to be halls of learning but are now ideology and propaganda think and dissemination tanks at Harvard and other universities. More like sewerage tanks than anything else. Just look at the middle east and illegal entry policy.
    They are trained to paint big targets on the back of those you pick as losers, or ideological offendors, or just plain rich people that support Republicans.
    We see these young ideologues led by veteran vultures circling like Steyer who has had his Damascus experience after making his money from oil and now is seeking to make a fortune from scaremongering and wild optimism at taxpayers expense.
    Everyone remembers that wild optimism of carbon markets in Europe which tanked and solar schemes in the U.S which tanked or a carbon tax here in Australia which was thrown out fir killing jibs and making no difference. Just like the gold rush these liberals cannot help it…more regulation…”There’s gold in them there climate policies!!!”
    What this article should have been talking about was all the Maggots feeding off the taxpayer dollars, the taxpayer dollars that liberals have turned into refuse piles over the years. Mr Obama, are you going to get the rich to pay to get rid of the Chicago’s maggots mentioned in this story or the taxpayer to provide a handout again? Anything’s possible with liberal philosophy…you just have to invent, exploit, lie and win.
    The truth is America will do itself a big favour when it gets rid of these activist liberals like Obama and his administration; and their teachers and professors in their “bastions of intolerance.” If you get rid of all the pest activity and damage and rot out of government you can raise the foundations on a sure footing. Come to think of it Mr Obama you and your maggots or termites should have been impeached from that Whitehouse a long time ago.

  • Neal99

    Someone should tell the president that climate change is an act of nature and occurs in cycles. Seems that mr. obama thinks he can solve the earths problems yer he can’t control the problems facing the nation. Must be all those flying hours are affecting his brain.

  • Peter Sims

    It is all about money.

    Pollution is caused by burning oil and coal.

    Solar cells are being installed in this country rapidly. Every solar cell
    reduces pollution.

    These solar cells are being (like everything else) made in China.

    Obama and the democratic senate has impose a tariff (a tax) on these imported
    cells.

    The reason is to slow these imports, so solar cell manufacturers (democratic
    donors) can make more money.
    This also slows the installation of solar cells in the US.
    So the answer is for Obama to open the East Coast to Drilling for Oil.