By Laura Barron-Lopez and Timothy Cama - 07/16/14 07:11 PM EDT
CLIMATE: President Obama is playing defense against climate change with a number of new initiatives he unveiled Wednesday across a wide array of agencies to help communities bulk up critical infrastructure.
In line with his year of action pledge, Obama is directing agencies like the U.S. Geological Survey to launch a $13.1 million 3-D mapping program to help chart water resources, coastal erosion and more elements, the administration said are exacerbated by climate change.
Obama also directed the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to include climate change in new guidance for hazard plans.
While alone the initiatives may appear incremental, together they make up a bulwark of defenses communities can utilize for rising sea levels, higher temperatures, wildfires, drought, and more.
Obama is also calling on agencies that aren't the usual suspects Republicans target when talking about the president's climate plan.
Still, GOP efforts to derail the biggest pieces of Obama's climate legacy are far from over. Republicans are tired of what they are calling "overreach" by Obama and for delving into policy areas they say should be left to Congress.
GOP TARGETS EPA’S WATER RULES: House Republicans continued their assault on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pollution rules Wednesday, this time focusing on water regulations with three bills aimed at reforming how the EPA does business.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the bills, which would restrict the agency’s preemptive and retroactive vetoes of permits to dump dredge or fill material in waterways and wetlands, give states more control over water pollution permits and block the EPA’s efforts to redefine its jurisdiction over streams and lakes.
The theme across the markup meeting? Republicans see the Clean Water Act as establishing a federal-state partnership in pollution control, and the EPA has not respected that. Lawmakers wanted to shift more responsibility back to states.
Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) said that would lead to a “race to the bottom” in which states compete for the least-protective rules to attract industry.
ON TAP THURSDAY: EPA head of air and radiation, Janet McCabe will participate in a discussion hosted by ICF International on the administration's carbon pollution rules for existing power plants.
Rest of Thursday's agenda ... The Environmental and Energy Study Initiative will host a Capitol Hill briefing on the current and future impacts of climate change in the Midwest, as well as potential strategies for making the region more resilient to climate change. Speakers will include experts on climate change resilience and government representatives.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy will hold a conference call to unveil its scorecard ranking the energy efficiency of the world’s top 16 economies.
Fracking ... Sen. Mark Udall chimed in on a hydraulic fracturing ballot measure that is heating up Colorado politics.
Udall, a strong advocate for natural gas production, opened up on measures that seek to restrict fracking in Colorado after Gov. John Hickenlooper dropped plans to hold a special legislative session meant to strike a compromise, and keep the measures off November's ballot.
"In my view, these proposed ballot initiatives do not strike that balance,” Udall said, according to the Associated Press. “I believe that Colorado can and must do better, which is why I oppose these one-size-fits-all restrictions.”
Burrrr it's cold in here ... Secretary of State John Kerry has appointed former Coast Guard Commandant Robert Papp for the newly formed role of special representative for the Arctic.
The Obama administration created the position to coordinate diplomatic and security issues as they related to the Arctic, State said Wednesday. Additionally, the U.S. will head the Arctic Council in 2015.
“We have a great deal of work to do, and that work starts right away,” Kerry said. “Admiral Papp will soon travel to Alaska to consult with policy-makers on the front lines of America's Arctic state.”
AROUND THE WEB:
“Extensive corrosion” in a storage tank at Freedom Industries in West Virginia likely caused a leak that led to a major chemical spill that tainted 300,000 people’s drinking water in Charleston, the Charleston Gazette reports, citing the Chemical Safety Board.
Lady Gaga shot a public service announcement to encourage Californians to conserve water as the state faces a drought, the Los Angeles Times reports.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Check out Wednesday's stories...
- US imposes new sanctions on Russia
- Obama: Climate change is 'direct threat' to US
- Oil lobby turns focus to EPA in ethanol fight
- Manchin stands by coal measure in Ex-Im Bank bill
- Lawmakers target EPA water regs
- EPA watchdog finds 'no indications of bias' against conservatives
- Panel votes to curb EPA's veto power
- EPA backs off on wage garnishment rule
- Google project maps natural gas leaks under city streets
- Japanese nuclear plant clears hurdle to restart
- Obama bulking up local defenses against climate change impact