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EPA’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan Falls Short: Groups Urge Three Key Actions
Agency Leaves Carbon Pollution Cuts Out of Proposal to Aid People, Wildlife
WASHINGTON - April 10 - The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan for adapting to climate change has fatal flaws that will limit its ability to help the nation cope with the mounting climate crisis, said 30 groups in a letter sent to the agency this week. The groups urged the agency to use its existing authority under the Clean Air Act to make quick, ambitious cuts to greenhouse gas pollution to slow the increasingly devastating changes being wreaked by global warming.
The EPA’s proposed “Climate Change Adaptation Plan,” released for public comment, outlines how the agency will try to remain effective in the face of climate change and help people and wildlife adjust to the massive environmental transformations underway. But the agency’s plan fails to acknowledge its own crucial role in national greenhouse pollution reductions, which will play a key role in determining the magnitude of the danger the nation will face.
“The longer the EPA delays ambitious cuts in greenhouse gas pollution, the more Americans will suffer the increasingly devastating impacts of the climate crisis,” said Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It makes no sense for the government to lay out a plan for coping with climate change dangers without mentioning its own critical role in reducing those threats by cutting greenhouse pollution under the Clean Air Act.”
According to the groups, the EPA must take three key actions to help the nation cope with global warming risks:
1. Make quick and ambitious cuts in greenhouse gas pollution under the Clean Air Act and other laws: Bold moves to cut greenhouse gas pollution will reduce the need for adaptation efforts and will make those efforts more feasible and less costly. But the EPA has been much too slow in applying the Clean Air Act to greenhouse gas pollution. For example, it is not yet regulating the massive pollution from existing power plants or carbon emissions from airplanes, the fastest growing transportation source of greenhouse gas pollution.
2. Acknowledge the scientific evidence that today’s greenhouse gas concentrations are already resulting in climate chaos: Severe and significant dangers linked to climate change are already stressing the nation’s ability to adjust. In the contiguous United States, 2012 was the warmest year and second most extreme year on record. Extreme heat waves blazed across the nation. More than half of all U.S. counties were designated as disaster areas, mostly due to drought, reducing food supplies. Hurricane Sandy, which was made stronger by climate change, killed at least 105 people and caused tens of billions of dollars of damage in the United States alone.
3. Recognize the science-based target for atmospheric carbon dioxide of 350 parts per million: That’s the level scientists have determined is necessary to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change. The EPA has the authority to set a national limit for CO2 at this level to protect people, wildlife and the planet. A national cap on carbon is critical to heading off the worst effects of global warming.