Feds outline climate change plans


The Obama administration released thousands of pages on Friday documenting federal agencies’ vulnerabilities to climate change and what those agencies plan to do about it.

In all, 38 agencies released climate change adaptation reports and sustainability plans to address climate threats and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the federal government.

The Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Postal Service and others charted threats climate change may have on their operations, and crafted plans to mitigate it.

“These agency climate plans underscore the Administration’s commitment to leading by example throughout the Federal Government so we can leave behind a planet that is not polluted and damaged and protect our ability to provide the vital services American communities depend on,” Mike Boots, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said on Friday.

The federal government has 360,000 buildings and 650,000 vehicles — a significant chunk of which are likely covered under the 38 agencies that took part in the planning.

No two agencies' risks in dealing with climate change are alike, according to the documents.

The Postal Service is worried about “increased flooding, rising sea levels and more intense weather events” that could “disrupt its ability to provide mail service and increase costs for maintaining infrastructure.”

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) calls climate change “one of the top public health challenges of our time.”

“Climate change is predicted to have greater impacts in the decades ahead, altering or increasing the risks of certain diseases, conditions, injuries and other threats to human well-being,” HHS said in its adaptation plan.

NASA found that 66 percent of its assets are within 16 feet of mean sea level, and that beach erosion is encroaching on the nation’s “access to space.”

On top of that, the Agriculture Department estimates an increase of up to 100 percent in the number of acres burned by wildfires annually by 2050.

Under the sustainability plans, other agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency will cut heating and cooling loads in its labs.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation will issue design and construction standards for new buildings to be 30 percent more sustainable and cost effective.

The White House said actions taken by agencies so far have already cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent since 2008, the “equivalent of permanently taking 1.8 million cars off the road.”

The end goal is to boost the federal government’s renewable energy use to 20 percent by 2020, and to slash federal greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent.

That would save $8 billion to $11 billion in energy expenses through 2020, the White House said.