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Trump closes panel meant to help cities deal with climate change

Trump closes panel meant to help cities deal with climate change
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The Trump administration is disbanding an interagency panel that was created to help explore ways that cities can deal with the effects of climate change.

Jesse Keenan, a Harvard University professor specializing in climate adaptation and chairman of the panel, told members at a Monday meeting that it would be their last, Bloomberg News reported.

“It was one of the last federal bodies that openly talked about climate change in public,” Keenan told Bloomberg. “I can say that we tried our best and we never self-censored!”

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Jennifer Huergo, spokeswoman for the Department of Commerce’s National Institute for Standards and Technology, said career employees at the agency — not political appointees — decided that the panel would work better as a workshop, which will take place by February.

“The decision to end the panel was made by NIST’s Community Resilience Program, without influence of any NIST political leadership, after it conducted an assessment of the panel and its mission and determined that a national workshop would be a more effective and efficient way to support the goals of the program,” Huergo said in a statement.

Former President Obama created the committee in 2015. It included representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies. It was tasked with finding ways for cities to build in more resilient ways and better survive rising sea levels.

“This was the federal government’s primary external engagement for resilience in the built environment,” Keenan, who did not get paid for his position, told Bloomberg.

President Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and has worked across government to dismantle policies meant to mitigate it.

But in the wake of a historically strong hurricane season, the administration has declared that it is committed to taking measures that promote resilience. For example, officials plan to issue new standards so that infrastructure is built to withstand future environmental extremes, following Trump's decision to rescind Obama’s policy on the subject.