Obama launches climate change fund

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President Obama announced a new climate change "resiliency fund" in a Friday night speech in drought-struck California.

The fund, which would need to be approved by Congress, is intended to help communities dealing with negative weather like drought, wildfires, and floods that are the result of climate change.

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Obama picked the trip to California to announce the fund proposal, which is to be included in his budget. California is experiencing a drought that is threatening its agriculture producers and has led Gov. Jerry Brown to call on people to conserve water.

Obama directly linked the drought to climate change in his commentts at a farm near Fresno.

"One thing that is undeniable is that changing temperatures influence drought," Obama said. "We have to be clear a changing climate means that weather related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods are potentially going to be costlier and harsher."

The president said this will make political decisions about "water politics" more difficult.

"Water politics in California has always been complicated but scientific evidence shows that a changing climate is going to make them more intense," he said. 

The fund is a part of a larger drought response his administration is launching to help devestated areas.

But a majority of the president's speech focused on tying the extreme weather to climate change.

The three ways climate change exacerbates droughts, Obama said, is that more rain falls in extreme downpours, causing water to be lost to runoff; more precipitation in the mountains comes as rain instead of snow, drying up rivers earlier in the year; and soil and reservoirs loose more water to evaporation.

"What does all this mean? Unless and until we do more to combat carbon pollution that causes climate change this trend is going to get worse," Obama said. "We are going to have to stop looking at these disasters as something to wait for and we have got to start looking at these disasters as something to prepare for, to anticipate, to start building infrastructure."

The administration's fund would invest in research to gather data on the impacts of climate change, help communities prepare for them and support innovative technologies and infrastructure to ready the country "in the face of a changing climate."

The new fund — separate from Obama's climate agenda announced in June — will be detailed in the president's 2015 budget, set for release next month.

While Obama has said he will use his executive authority to push his climate agenda and other policies during what he dubbed his "year of action," the president would need approval from Congress for the fund.

Obama was joined by Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack, Brown (D) and California Sens. Barbara Boxer (D) and Dianne Feinstein (D) and California Rep. Jim Costa (D) during his visit on Friday.

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