Highlights from Federal Agency Adaptation Plans

December 2, 2014

Federal agencies released updated adaptation and sustainability plans on October 31, 2014.  The updated plans build and improve upon the first phase of adaptation plans released in 2013.  For the first time, the plans include discussion of how agencies can leverage existing federal programs to better support and remove barriers to state, local, and tribal adaptation efforts.

Federal programs, policies, and decisions will be critical to ensuring the long-term resilience of states and communities.  Federal agencies deliver billions of dollars in financial assistance; they develop the data, tools, and models that are critical to informed decisionmaking; and federal regulatory programs, such as the Clean Water Act and National Flood Insurance Program, greatly affect state and local decisionmaking.

The 2014 plans include important analysis of the downstream effects federal programs have on state and local decisionmakers.  Each agency identified actions the agency can take to remove barriers to and better support adaptation at the state and local level.

The following are examples of actions that federal agencies identified for promoting state and local adaptation over the next several years:

  • The Department of Commerce (DOC) will continue to provide training to coastal communities to build their capacity to adapt; to support the use of nature-based infrastructure for coastal resilience; and to build scientific understanding of the value of ecosystem services.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering the applicability of the Resilience STAR program (a DHS-led initiative to promote resilient building design practices and standards) for the design of major infrastructure projects.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is developing tools to assess the cost-effectiveness of hazard mitigation projects in light of projected sea-level rise.
  • The Department of Interior (DOI) identified WaterSMART Grants (administered by the Bureau of Reclamation) as a possible source of funding for adapting to water scarcity and promoting energy efficiency.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will prioritize the incorporation of climate change considerations in the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plans to incorporate climate change considerations into existing processes.   For example, HUD will ask grantees to discuss climate-related risks and actions in their Consolidated Plans for receiving Community Development Block Grants and other HUD funding.

The Georgetown Climate Center has developed this detailed summary of federal agency adaptation plans.  Many of the actions identified by the federal agencies in their adaptation plans also echo recommendations identified by the Climate Center in its recent report, Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action


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