Obama bulking up local defenses against climate change impact

In a slew of actions, President Obama on Wednesday is unveiling new tools for state, local and tribal leaders that will better prepare them for the impacts of climate change.

The unilateral actions, in line with Obama's year of action pledge and climate change agenda, will provide millions to tribes for adaptation training, establish awards for states to improve rural electric infrastructure and make available mapping and data tools for climate resilience.


The new actions are sure to set off a firestorm of criticism from Republicans, who have engaged in a full-throated assault on the president's climate rules over the past month.

Obama is announcing the series of actions in response to feedback from the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which include governors, mayors and tribal leaders from across the U.S.

Four Republicans also sit on the task force, including Jim Brainard, the mayor of Carmel, Ind., and Bob Dixson, the mayor of Greensburg, Kan.

The new initiatives come from early requests the task force made to Obama, who plans to meet with members for a final time on Wednesday. They will send their final recommendations to him this fall.

To aide tribes in developing and teaching adaptation training, the Interior Department will launch a new $10 million partnership between the federal government and tribal leaders on resilience and technical assistance.

Obama will also direct Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy to establish an interagency group that will provide tribes with data and information on climate changes.

The Agriculture Department will announce on Wednesday awards totaling $236.3 million in funding for eight states to improve rural electric infrastructure.

In addition, the U.S. Geological Survey and other agencies will launch a $13.1 million 3-D Elevation Program, which will bring information from agencies, academia, businesses, states, tribes and cities into one mapping system of the U.S.

The 3-D mapping system will be able to help with water resource planning, mitigating coastal erosion and identifying landslide areas, according to a White House fact sheet.

The Agriculture Department will announce additional funding to help rural communities dealing with drought later this week.

To ensure states consider climate change in future planning efforts for natural disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) will release new guidance for hazard plans, which were last issued in 2008.

FEMA will also establish a Mitigation Integration Task Force to help communities build strong and safer in the aftermath of a disaster.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will provide new guidance on coastal management to make sure communities account for how climate change might impact coastal regions.

Finally, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is releasing a new study on health vulnerability to climate change to provide as a guide for public health departments.