Obama to issue order toughening climate change defenses

President Obama will sign an executive order Friday aimed at helping states and local governments toughen defenses against strong storms and other extreme weather that’s expected to intensify as the planet warms.

A White House aide confirmed the plan, first reported by The New York Times on Thursday.

The order follows the White House second-term climate agenda released in June that promises a series of executive actions on building up U.S. resilience to inevitable climate change.

According to the Times, the executive order will encourage government to pay greater attention to how future climate change will impact federally-funded projects, from highways to flood control.

“For instance, when federal money is being spent on projects like roads, bridges, flood control and many others, the plan would encourage greater attention to the likely climate conditions of the future, which might require making the structures stronger or larger,” according to the paper.

The Times reported that the White House is also setting up a task force of state and local leaders to advise the federal government on climate adaptation and resiliency efforts.

“At least six governors — all Democrats — have agreed to serve, along with mayors and other local leaders representing both political parties. The plan also calls for better coordination among federal agencies,” the paper reported.

The GOP governor of Guam will be on the task force, according to the White House.

Obama, in his laying out his second-term climate agenda in June, vowed new steps to help communities harden their defenses against global warming.

“As we act to curb the greenhouse gas pollution that is driving climate change, we must also prepare for the impacts that are too late to avoid,” the climate plan released in late June states.

“The president will direct federal agencies to identify and remove barriers to making climate-resilient investments; identify and remove counterproductive policies that increase vulnerabilities; and encourage and support smarter, more resilient investments, including through agency grants, technical assistance, and other programs, in sectors from transportation and water management to conservation and disaster relief,” the plan states.

It also vowed establishment of a task force of state, local and tribal leaders on climate preparedness.

Federal officials say extreme weather – such as heatwaves, drought and strong storms – is a major economic threat.

Disasters including Hurricane Sandy cost the U.S. economy more than $100 billion in 2012, according to the White House.

This post was updated at 9:02 a.m.