climate changeAs part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the EPA last week released plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change impacts such as flooding, sea level rise, severe weather and temperature extremes. These Sustainability Plans and Climate Change Adaptation Plans coincide with the fifth anniversary of President Obama’s 2009 Executive Order on Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance, which set aggressive energy, climate and environmental targets for agencies, and detail how EPA’s actions have already contributed to reducing the Federal Government’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 17 percent since 2008 – the equivalent of permanently taking 1.8 million cars off the road.

No longer a distant threat

“Climate change is no longer a distant threat. It is already challenging our communities and our ability to protect the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “EPA’s Adaptation Plan provides the agency with a roadmap for how we will anticipate and plan for a changing climate, while our Sustainability Plan identifies specific ways we will help slow the rate of climate change by reducing our own carbon footprint.”

The plan

The climate change impacts that are hitting communities across the country – ranging from more severe droughts and wildfires to record heat waves and damaging storms – are also affecting federal facilities, operations and resources. The president directed agencies to assess their vulnerabilities to these impacts in Climate Change Adaptation Plans and outline how they will protect federal programs and taxpayer investments.

The EPA Plan identifies priority actions the agency will take to incorporate considerations of climate change into its programs, policies, rules and operations to ensure they are effective under future climatic conditions. The plan reflects input received from states, tribes and municipal and county officials during development, as well as comments received during a formal tribal consultation process and a 60 day public comment period during the winter of 2013.

EPA is also releasing final Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans from its National Environmental Program Offices and all 10 Regional Offices. The Implementation Plans, which also reflect responses to public comment, provide more detail on how EPA Programs and Regions will carry out the work called for in the agencywide plan in partnership with states, tribes, and local governments.

EPA commitments include:

• Incorporating climate adaptation criteria in the Brownfields grants process to ensure cleanup actions taken by communities are effective as the climate changes.

• Integrating considerations of climate change into the Clean Water State Revolving Funds process and continue working with States to ensure investments in water infrastructure are resilient to changes in climate.

• Providing communities with the tools they need to increase their resilience. For example, a Stormwater Calculator and Climate Adaptation Tool empowers community planners to estimate the amount of stormwater runoff that they’ll have to manage today and in the future.

Federal scorecard

The EPA says the federal government – the largest energy user in the nation -- has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 57.4 percent.

As for its own energy efficiency, the EPA reports that in 2013, it exceeded the 24 percent energy intensity reduction from its FY 2003 baseline, reducing its FY 2013 energy intensity by 25.6 percent from FY 2003. In FY 2013, EPA also reduced fleet petroleum use by 38.9 percent compared to the FY 2005 baseline, exceeding the goal of 16 percent.

To view EPA’s Plan and Implementation Plans:

More information about EPA’s climate adaptation activities:

To view EPA’s Sustainability Plan: