Obama Budget Would Help Prepare for Climate Impacts  

Photographer: John Fitzhugh/Biloxi Sun Herald/MCT via Getty Images

Power company crews work to repair damaged transmission lines in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Feb. 11, 2013. An EF-4 tornado hit the area according to a preliminary report from the National Weather Service in Jackson. Close

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Photographer: John Fitzhugh/Biloxi Sun Herald/MCT via Getty Images

Power company crews work to repair damaged transmission lines in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Feb. 11, 2013. An EF-4 tornado hit the area according to a preliminary report from the National Weather Service in Jackson.

President Obama's proposed fiscal year 2014 budget includes funding to help U.S. communities increase their resilience to extreme weather and other climate change impacts.

The budget proposal also includes nearly $1 billion to address climate change on a global scale by reducing deforestation and promoting low-carbon growth in developing countries.

The budget would include $2.7 billion for the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which coordinates federal research on climate change, nearly $200 million over fiscal 2011 enacted funding levels, according to the program's website. The program receives funding from 13 different federal agencies and covers the national climate assessment, which is a federal government report on climate change impacts and response strategies expected to be published in 2014.

The budget also includes $200 million in Transportation Department investments for U.S. communities that are planning transportation or infrastructure projects to increase resilience to climate change. The investments are designed to spur additional state, local, and private-sector funding. The funds are part of the administration's overall proposed increase in infrastructure investment grants to $480 million in fiscal year 2014 from $275 million in fiscal year 2012 enacted funding.

Direct Assistance

The administration said it would also provide direct technical assistance to communities, as well as data and tools on projected climate change impacts, to support local efforts to plan for climate change, according to the budget proposal. The budget proposal did not specify the amount of funding for such assistance.

The Environmental Protection Agency's budget would fund research on air quality benefits associated with climate mitigation and adaptation. EPA's fiscal year 2014 budget request of approximately $1 billion for its clean air and climate change programs is $55 million less than fiscal year 2012 enacted levels.

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Obama vowed in his State of the Union address to take action on climate change. He urged Congress to pursue market-based solutions to addressing climate change, but said he would take action if Congress did not.

Funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development would include $75 million in community planning grants, some of which would go to helping communities prepare for climate change.

Funding for International Efforts

The State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development budget would include $909 million to address climate change by supporting clean energy and energy efficiency, reducing deforestation, and building climate resilience in developing countries, the proposal states. The funds would also support international efforts related to renewable energy, sustainable land use, reducing unsustainable forest clearing and illegal logging, and building resilience in countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts.

The requested funds include $216 million to support investments in clean technologies in developing countries, up from $185 million enacted funding for fiscal year 2012. The State Department proposed budget includes $13 million for the International Panel on Climate Change and U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, a $3 million increase over fiscal year 2012 enacted funding.

The budget includes $68 million for a suite of programs aimed at helping developing countries reduce deforestation, prepare for and response to climate change impacts, and scale up renewable energy development, down from $75 million enacted funding in fiscal year 2012. The $68 million satisfies the State Department's commitment toward this international effort.

The proposed budget includes $2 billion for NOAA to continue to develop weather satellite systems to predict storms and measure sea level, an increase from $1.7 billion enacted in fiscal year 2012.

Cutting Carbon Emissions

The budget reiterates Obama's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Obama set a new goal in the budget proposal to cut the amount of energy wasted by U.S. homes and businesses in half by 2030, doubling the economic output per unit of energy consumed by 2030, compared to 2010 levels.

The proposal also sets a goal to cut imports of foreign oil in half by 2020, compared to 2008 levels.

It would establish a $2 billion Energy Security Trust funded by royalty revenue from oil and gas leases over 10 years to support initiatives to move U.S. cars and trucks away from using oil for fuel, such as research into clean technologies. The budget would repeal more than $4 billion a year in tax subsidies for oil, gas, and other fossil fuel products, saying the subsidies impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to address climate change.

The Energy Department proposed budget includes $266 million for developing carbon capture and storage and advanced power systems. Carbon capture and storage can help mitigate climate change, according to EPA.

The proposed budget includes $200 million for new Race to the Top energy efficiency awards for state governments that implement policies to cut energy waste and modernize the electric grid.

Mixed Reactions From Environmental Groups

Todd Shelton, vice president for U.S. government relations for the World Wildlife Fund, praised Obama's budget request in a statement April 10 for maintaining funding for international climate change efforts and providing domestic funding for energy efficiency and other programs.

“Overall, the budget reflects a determination to continue U.S. leadership on key climate change and conservation issues,” he said.

Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica said in a statement that the budget did not go far enough to address climate change. “In his address this morning, President Obama reiterated his commitment to deal with climate change, but his budget does not call for the steps that are necessary,” Pica said. “Enacting a meaningful price on carbon is perhaps the single most important step we can take to avoid climate disaster, and it could also raise funds to strengthen our government.”

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