Interior Department's New Federal Climate Strategy Plan Will Save Money and Lives, Science Group Says

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Lisa Nurnberger, office 202-331-6959 cell 443-668-9219

Interior Department's New Federal Climate Strategy Plan Will Save Money and Lives, Science Group Says

Statement by Brenda Ekwurzel, Union of Concerned Scientists.

WASHINGTON - Interior
Secretary Ken Salazar today announced the formation of eight regional
Interior Department Climate Change Response Centers that will develop
strategies to address climate change on federal land.

Below is a statement by Brenda Ekwurzel, climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"Interior Secretary Salazar's announcement means the United States
will be much better prepared to respond to the current and coming
changes due to global warming. The Interior Department manages 20
percent of the land in the United States,
so its role in developing strategies to cope with the unavoidable
consequences of global warming is critical and could potentially save
lives.

"For
example, this new initiative would allow the federal government to
develop floodplain maps that take into account the changes that have
already occurred due to global warming and what will likely happen down
the road. This would allow developers to know where it's safe to build,
as well as identify the type of infrastructure improvements, for such
things as bridges and levies, that protect communities in flood zone
regions.  

"The
federal government will develop strategies to address the growing
wildfire threat in the West. These strategies could include reducing
rampant bark beetle infestations that kill trees and create a tinder
box situation for forests in drought conditions. The plans also could
provide information to state and local governments to identify
vulnerable locations most in need of fire breaks and other buffers
around homes. 

"These
new Interior Department regional centers will coordinate with state and
local governments and local residents to help them respond to the
changes in their own backyards. Planning is key, because regardless of
what we do, we will still have to adapt. And planning will allow us to
lower the costs of adapting.  The administration is taking
the actions it can under existing laws and with limited funding. To
fully protect the public and lands of the United States, we need legislation that provides funding for adaptation and curbs heat-trapping emissions.

"We
fully support the administration's new initiative and encourage
continued focus on an earlier Interior Department initiative that calls
for expanding renewable energy on U.S. public lands."

For a UCS report on the costs the United States would incur if climate change continues unabated, go to: www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/impacts/climate-costs-of-inaction.html.

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The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.

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