May 05, 2009

Tweaking the Climate Change Adaptation Proposal

On Thursday, Rep. Raul Grijalva introduced HR 2192, a bill on adapting to the impacts of climate change. The law would establish a "Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Panel" that would create a plan for several federal agencies to anticipate and seek to mitigate the effects of a changed planet.

The bill is very similar to the natural resource adaptation provisions (Title IV, Subtitle E, Subpart C) in the Waxman-Markey draft climate change legislation. Those provisions were a good start, though certainly not perfect (Holly Doremus and I previously analyzed the good and the bad of those provisions here).

E&E News reported  (subscription required) that Grijalva's bill, along with a separate one in the works in the House Science Committee, are "expected to be voted on before Memorial Day and eventually to be folded into [Waxman-Markey]." If it came to it, should Waxman-Markey stumble, this bill could go ahead separately.

Rep. Grijalva's bill makes some changes, including:

  • An increased funding allocation for Indian tribes from 1% to 3% and decreased allocations for State coastal organizations (1.5%) and NOAA (0.5%) from a newly created Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Account that would fund natural resources adaptation activities.
  • The creation of a National Wildlife Habitat and Corridors Information Program to develop a geographic information system database on fish and wildlife habitat and corridors to aid Federal, State, local, and tribal adaptation efforts.
  • Savings clause language intended to preserve existing Federal trust responsibilities to Indian tribes.

I'd still like to see improvement particularly on three areas that we critiqued in the Waxman-Markey language on natural resource adaptation. That language failed to come to grips with the problem of identifying clear goals for natural resource adaptation efforts. Like the Waxman-Markey bill, Grijalva’s bill also continues to mandate a separate natural resource adaptation planning effort rather than integrating adaptation into existing planning and implementation structures. Finally, both bills only mandate natural resource adaptation planning by a few resource management agencies, failing to engage some important federal agencies in key aspects of the adaptation effort.

Alejandro Camacho, CPR Member Scholar; Assoc. Prof., Notre Dame Law, Visiting Prof., UC Irvine School of Law. Bio.

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