Federal Climate Change Policy

Integrating Climate Change into Federal Policy

Climate change must be integrated into the decisions we make at every level of government but especially at the federal level, where policy decisions have far-reaching implications throughout the country. From water infrastructure funding to farm subsidies, federal policies have enormous implications for the ability of communities and the environment to withstand the impacts of climate change. Climate change must be a consideration in infrastructure investments, permitting processes, and other policy decisions.

American Rivers has identified ten areas of federal policy that are especially in need of reform in order to reduce our vulnerability to climate change impacts. These reforms represent a blueprint for how we can mainstream climate change preparedness throughout federal policies. American Rivers is working to ensure that these recommendations are integrated into federal policymaking so that communities and rivers are resilient in the face of a changing climate.

Climate Change Adaptation Legislation

Communities across the country are struggling to maintain and upgrade their water infrastructure. In many places, dams, levees, sewage pipes, and water supply systems are crumbling with age or failing to keep up with the needs of a growing population. At the same time, many of the wetlands, forests, rivers, and floodplains that control floods and provide clean water for free have been degraded or destroyed. There is an urgent need to maintain and restore our water infrastructure – both natural and engineered – and to do so in a way that will protect communities and the environment from climate change impacts. This is a costly process that many communities cannot undertake alone. 

American Rivers is working to bring federal assistance to communities that are struggling with this challenge. We are working with Congress to pass a bill that would help communities prepare for a changing climate. This program would prioritize the most innovative and cost-effective approaches such as green infrastructure and water efficiency. As a result, these projects could serve as a model for other communities struggling with the same challenges. More details on the bill will be coming soon.

American Rivers worked to integrate adaptation provisions into past climate bills as well. For information on past climate legislation, visit our pages on the American Clean Energy and Security Act and the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.

Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task force

The Obama Administration has made noticeable progress toward integrating climate change adaptation into federal government operations in recent years. An interagency task force led by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and comprised of more than 20 agencies has been guiding the effort. A new report in fall 2010 identified recommendations for how the federal government can prepare for climate change, and agencies are now starting the process of identifying steps they can take to accomplish that goal.

American Rivers has provided input on this process and was pleased to see a number of its recommendations included the 2010 report. American Rivers is continuing to provide input on this important process as it moves forward.