Executive Order calls for climate adaptation

Presidential directive holds potential to move federal adaptation efforts forward, but implementation will be the key.

piping ploverCross-posted at The Berkeley Blog.

Today, President Obama issued an Executive Order intended “to prepare the Nation for the impacts of climate change by undertaking actions to enhance climate preparedness and resilience.”

In some respects, this order simply continues ongoing efforts. Under this administration, the executive branch has already been doing a great deal of research, assessment, and planning for adaptation. Today’s Executive Order will continue those efforts. But it also lays the foundation for moving from planning to action.

Two provisions strike me as potentially important advances.

First, the Executive Order tells the nation’s key land and water management agencies, working with the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Office of Management and Budget,

to complete an inventory and assessment of proposed and completed changes to their land- and water-related policies, programs, and regulations necessary to make the Nation’s watersheds, natural resources, and ecosystems, and the communities and economies that depend on them, more resilient in the face of a changing climate.

Second, it directs federal agencies to “work together to develop and provide authoritative, easily accessible, usable, and timely data, information, and decision-support tools on climate preparedness and resilience.” That’s very general, of course, but the Order provides at least one specific directive: it tells CEQ and OMB to create a special portal for climate issues and decisionmaking on the data.gov site.

Both of these measures hold great promise. The first provides a needed nudge for agencies to adjust their programs in light of increasing understanding of the potential effects of climate change. And the second offers the hope that for once data and tools will be shared within and between agencies, and with the public and other governments, in ways that will improve the effectiveness and decrease the costs of adaptation work. The key test, of course, is the extent of follow-through. If the White House makes this effort a priority, the agencies will too. If the White House forgets about it and moves on to other things, it could end up as nothing more than hopeful words.

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Reader Comments

3 Replies to “Executive Order calls for climate adaptation”

  1. Dear Holly (and California Environmental Bar);
    Why should anyone believe anything Obama says about climate change or anything else? Some of the contributors to this forum would like for us to believe that it is morally righteous for the President to lie (but it’s wrong for Republicans to lie). If it is acceptable for Obama to lie about Obamacare, then is it also acceptable for our President to lie about climate change?
    When is it good to lie? How many lies are enough? What is truth? Does it matter? Who cares?

    1. BQRQ — We welcome helpful comments, including comments from those who disagree with us. Indeed, we often disagree with each other. If you think this Executive Order is a bad idea, or you disagree with me about what it means or what its consequences will be, by all means say so. But if you just want to generally call the President a liar, I’m sure there are better venues for that.

      1. Dear Holly,
        There is no need for any of us to point out that the President is a liar because the news media does this for us. I am trying to address the presumption that the President’s words and actions pertaining to climate change are truthful, accurate and trustworthy. As you know there has been much hype, exaggeration, and misinformation regarding climate change, so it is difficult for ordinary citizens to discern the truth, and Obama has made it even more difficult. The President’s Executive Order is a bad idea because of the incompetence and dishonesty that we have witnessed in Obamacare and fraudulent green energy scams. Why should we expect the President’s climate programs to be any different?

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About Holly

Holly Doremus is the James H. House and Hiram H. Hurd Professor of Environmental Regulation at UC Berkeley. Doremus brings a strong background in life sciences and a comm…

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About Holly

Holly Doremus is the James H. House and Hiram H. Hurd Professor of Environmental Regulation at UC Berkeley. Doremus brings a strong background in life sciences and a comm…

READ more