Obama Administration Releases Report on How Federal Agencies Can Support State and Local Adaptation Efforts

November 17, 2014

The Obama Administration released a report today that details how federal agencies can use existing programs to support, state, local, and tribal adaptation efforts.

The report includes recommendations from the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Many of the recommendations in the report to help communities prepare for climate change also draw from the 100 recommendations for federal action that the Georgetown Climate Center released in September.

The Administration’s report includes a range of actionable recommendations that can be implemented by agencies now using existing authority.  Recommendations call federal on agencies to:

  • Require or encourage strengthened building codes and floodplain ordinances.
  • Ensure that federal investments will be resilient to climate change impacts by considering climate change impacts in environmental review documents required by the National Environmental Policy Act and developing a national flood resilience standard.
  • Improve the delivery of disaster recovery funds to allow for community-scale resilience investments and to address the needs of communities displaced by climate-related disasters.
  • Improve floodplain maps by including information about how climate change effects, such as sea-level rise and increased precipitation, may exacerbate flooding, erosion, and other hazards.
  • Reform policies hindering the deployment of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs for energy efficiency and other resilience investments.
  • Encourage and fund green and natural infrastructure projects to provide multiple benefits to: buffer storm surges, filter polluted runoff, manage erosion, and provide habitats for species.
  • Reform cost-benefit analysis to ensure that federal investments account for the long-term benefits of adapting to climate change.
  • Support efforts of communities and states to coordinate regionally on climate adaptation and resilience.
  • Improve training of federal agency staff so that policies identified at senior levels are translated down the line to staff who work directly with state, local, and tribal officials.
  • Improve the delivery and translation of climate science, data, and tools so that information is presented in way that can lead to state and local action.
  • Create a Climate Corps, modeled by other national service models such as Americorps, to build community capacity to respond to climate change and to develop the next generation of adaptation professionals.

Importantly, the report calls on the Administration to develop implementation benchmarks and a process for reporting on progress.  This tracking will be critical to ensuring that federal agencies act on and institutionalize the recommendations identified by the Task Force.  To ensure implementation, the Administration should call on federal agencies to consider the recommendations and report on progress in federal agency adaptation plans (which were released in October 2014).