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Federal Agencies Developing Data, Tools For Local Climate Resiliency, McCarthy Says

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

By Andrew Childers

March 10 — Federal agencies are developing the data and tools local governments need to develop their own climate adaptation and resiliency strategies, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and other officials told the National League of Cities March 10.

“We're hunkering down to provide tools and information so people can really address this on their own,” McCarthy said during the Congressional City Conference.

Federal officials touted President Obama's proposed budget, which includes a $1 billion fund for climate resiliency. McCarthy said the proposed budget would provide enough funding for the EPA and other agencies to address climate resiliency and adaptation programs in 100 additional cities beyond those already participating in the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

The fund, which Obama announced in February, is intended to assist coastal areas and other regions prepare for severe storms, drought, and other weather events that could be intensified by climate change.

“We can do better in shaping the work we do in water and wastewater if we think about green infrastructure up front and how you align those investments with how communities want to grow and develop,” McCarthy said.

The new fund is included in a broader $56 billion Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative proposed by the administration, which is split between an array of defense and nondefense programs designed to boost research spending and boost growth. The $1 billion would be spread across multiple agencies and departments.

“A clear message I get from mayors across the country is the fed government needs to be a source of the information we need,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said at the conference.

He said his department has developed a web tool that allows local officials to project sea level rise for the next 100 years, to improve climate adaptation planning. That data can be used to improve zoning regulations and building codes to better reflect the challenges posed by a changing climate.

“That's the kind of work we need to do to better help all of you,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Childers in Washington at achilders@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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