Podesta to lead forum on preparing U.S. for climate risks

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The White House will host a high-level forum tomorrow evening on its plans to make the United States more resilient to climate change.
In a statement released yesterday, the administration promised “new announcements” from federal agencies and the private sector on efforts to help communities shore up infrastructure and respond to the effects of warming.White House counselor John Podesta will lead the 5 p.m. event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with top staffers from agencies tasked with predicting future climatic trends.”The Obama administration recognizes that even as we act to curb the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, we must also improve our ability to prepare for climate impacts that are already occurring across the country,” the White House said in a statement. “The insights gathered from scientific data are essential to help communities and businesses better understand and manage the risks associated with climate change.”

The event will be attended by the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Kathryn Sullivan; White House Office of Science and Technology Policy chief John Holdren; Council on Environmental Quality acting Chairman Mike Boots; NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan; and private-sector participants including Rebecca Moore, founder of Google Inc.’s Earth Engine.

The event comes after the White House made good on its pledge to include a $1 billion request for climate change adaptation funding in its fiscal 2015 request to Congress (Greenwire, March 4).

The request — made as part of a broader $56 billion Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative funding proposal — faces an uphill battle in Congress, where Republican lawmakers are as distrustful of climate science as they are of government spending.

Steve Winkelman of the Center for Clean Air Policy said in an email that he was particularly pleased to see the White House engage the private sector on adaptation.

“Hopefully this will result in enhanced assistance to help communities like Boulder, Colorado get back on their feet after the devastating flooding,” he said.