Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Senate Climate Bill Sees Light Of Day

Senators John Kerry and Josef Lieberman unveiled their long awaited climate bill, “The American Power Act,” today (The bill, along with some explanatory documents can be found here). Weighing in at almost 1000 pages, the bill tries to provide a little bit of something for just about everyone. Though primarily aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting various energy initiatives, there are some provisions which should be of interest to people involved with water related issues.

Though I am still parsing through the bill myself, Title VI of the bill – addressing adaptation to climate change – has jumped out at me as being particularly relevant to the water community. That part of the bill creates a new “Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Panel.” The Panel (easier than saying NRCCAP), will be made up of the heads (or their delegates) of essentially every federal agency that has anything to do with natural resources or the environment. And the Panel is tasked, within a year of its formation, of formulating a comprehensive national strategy:

(1) to protect, restore, and conserve natural resources so that natural
resources become more resilient, adapt to, and withstand the ongoing and
expected impacts of climate change; and
(2) to identify opportunities to mitigate the ongoing and expected impacts of climate change.

Once formulated, this Strategy will be rolled out to all of the various agencies and organizations represented on the Panel who then have to formulate plans of their own to implement the Strategy.

Water management and conservation are mentioned relatively prominently throughout the bill, considering its focus on energy and GHG emissions. And from a number of the provisions it appears that the bill will provide at least some new federal funding for water management and conservation efforts.

Of course, this bill is in its infancy. And there is no guarantee that it will pass in its current form, or at all. And at the end of the day, where the rubber meets the road here is less with the terms of the bill, and more with the regulations and rules that come out of it.

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