Even though Congress has not enacted legislation to address climate change, President Obama and the federal agencies are nonetheless pressing forward with initiatives to respond to climate change. In an Executive Order signed on 5 October 2009, President Obama directed all federal agencies to set targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions for 2020 and to become more sustainable. “As the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy, the Federal government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies,” said the President.

The Executive Order creates requirements for agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to targets set by the agency and to recycle or divert 50 percent of all waste by 2015. Other aspects of the Executive Order are an extension of measures ordered by President Bush in 2007: The requirement for agencies to reduce water and gasoline consumption by 2 percent annually will be extended through 2020. To read the Executive Order, visit http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-24518.htm.

Additionally, several federal agencies are moving forward with plans to better prepare for the impacts of climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it will track greenhouse gas emissions from 10,000 industrial facilities starting in 2010, which collectively represent 85 percent of U.S. emissions. Although the new permits, issued under the Clean Air Act, will not reduce carbon emissions, they could be used in the future for that purpose. Although some from the industrial sector have criticized the move, EPA Air Chief Gina McCarthy defended the agency’s actions. “I can’t imagine that it makes sense for EPA to stand still while debates are happening on rules for reducing greenhouse gases,” McCarthy said.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service released a draft report which outlines the agency’s plans for responding to climate change. Landscape Conservation Cooperatives will be established to create strategies for managing climate impacts, and the agency also plans to become carbon neutral by 2020. With respect to science, the report calls for a national biological inventory, species and habitat vulnerability assessments, management of genetic resources, and regional climate partnerships for modeling and monitoring. The report is available at http://www.fws.gov/home/climatechange/pdf/CCDraftStratPlan92209.pdf.

 


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