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White House announces steps to help state, local and tribal officials combat climate change

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Wednesday, July 16, 2014, at 10:58 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, July 16, 2014, at 3:53 p.m.

— In its ongoing effort to mitigate the impact of climate change, the White House on Wednesday announced several small steps by a range of agencies to help local officials cope with the issue.

The steps – undertaken by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and others – are designed to help local communities “withstand impacts like more extreme weather and increased flooding.” The steps come two months after the National Climate Assessment detailed down to the local level all the ways that scientists say changing climate has or will affect the nation.

As an example: The American Southeast and Caribbean region is “exceptionally vulnerable” to rising sea levels, extreme heat events, hurricanes and decreased water resources, the report said. That’s a real danger to the seven major ports in that region. And residents can expect a significant increase in the number of hot days – defined as 95 degrees or above – as well as decreases in freezing events.

The list of a dozen actions announced by the White House comes in response to suggestions from a presidential task force of local and tribal leaders. Among the actions being taken:

• The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs launched a $10 million partnership program to help tribes prepare for climate change by developing adaptation training.

• The Department of Agriculture announced awards totaling $236.3 million for eight states to support improved rural electric infrastructure.

• The EPA launched a collaborative program among government and private agencies to develop “green infrastructure” – urban forests and rooftop gardens that can be used as a tool for building resilience to the impact of climate change.

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