With hurricane season beginning on Sunday, the Administration has been hard at work making sure we’re as prepared as possible. Today, the President convened a meeting with members of his response team to receive an update on these efforts, as well as a briefing on the outlook on the 2014 hurricane season. Federal, State, and local agencies are working together on mobile applications and other innovations that will better inform and involve the public in preparedness and response activities.
As a result of our changing climate, more and more communities across the United States can expect to feel impacts like increasingly frequent and severe storms or extended drought and wildfire seasons. In fact, the third National Climate Assessment that the Administration released earlier this month confirms that climate change is already affecting every region of the United States as well as key sectors of our economy. Local decision-makers in communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change know this, as they’re on the front lines of dealing with climate change. And through the President’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, we’re working with a group of those decision-makers – all of them proven leaders in helping their communities adapt to the impacts of climate change - to figure out how the Federal Government can best support their efforts. The Task Force will provide its recommendations to the President in the fall, and in the meantime President Obama is doing everything he can to support the work of those leaders and build a safer and more resilient Nation.
One of the ways we can do this is by investing in the resilience of our natural resources. This week, the United States Department of Agriculture announced the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), a program that will rely on partnerships with regional organizations, non-profits, and the private sector to drive conservation and restoration efforts in the regions where they are needed most. With the government serving as a catalyst, we can spur more private investment in rural America to increase local resilience to drought and flooding, increase water supply, and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
As we work to improve the resilience of our precious natural resources, we also need to build smarter and stronger, so that our infrastructure can withstand the next storm, and the next. In the Hurricane Sandy-affected region, state and local stakeholders are working with the Federal Government to do just that. Sandy recovery efforts can serve as a model for future investments in building climate resilience in communities all over the country. For example, today the Federal Transit Administration is awarding approximately $167 million to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and $67 million to New Jersey Transit from their Emergency Relief Program to help both agencies continue rebuilding and replacing transportation equipment and facilities damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. By strengthening rail systems, ferry terminals, and local infrastructure, the region can be prepared for a future with intensified storms and other extreme weather events. And the Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced a third round of grant funding, totaling more than $2.5 billion, to help four states and New York City continue recovering from Hurricane Sandy.
The President stands with the communities all over the U.S. as they prepare for hurricane season, and for the impacts of climate change that are affecting us now, and will continue to affect us in the future.
Mike Boots is Acting Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.