The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comments on its draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan, published Feb. 8 in the Federal Register.
The plan is a snapshot of ways climate change could affect EPA’s core mission and key goals. The agency said, “It is essential that EPA adapt to, anticipate and plan for future changes in climate.”
EPA and other federal agencies are drafting climate change adaptation plans in response to a 2009 executive order from President Obama requiring them to do so.
EPA says it has not yet conducted a detailed quantitative assessment of climate change’s influence on its ability to meet its mission. But the current document, part of a larger federal effort to ensure that the U.S. can cope with the effects of warming global temperatures, will serve as a guide for agency officials to set priorities for integrating climate adaptation planning into its activities.
The plan looks at key vulnerabilities and ways climate change could affect five major areas within EPA’s jurisdiction: air quality; water quality; cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites; preventing chemical pollution; and enforcing environmental laws.
For EPA water quality programs, some anticipated effects of climate change include increased pollutant concentrations and lower dissolved-oxygen levels, which could result in more bodies of water failing to meet standards and thus being listed as impaired. In addition, increased rainfall intensity could cause more sewer overflows and wastewater bypasses, leading to polluted streams.
In the draft plan, EPA also notes that climate change “will have a significant impact on water infrastructure.…EPA recognizes that this infrastructure is aging and is being further taxed by the impacts of climate change.”
EPA will be accepting public comments for 60 days, through April 9.