Though in many respects similar to provisions in the House-approved American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) bill and the prior Boxer-Kerry bill in the Senate, the adaptation program proposed in the newly released Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act substantially decreases funding for federal and state adaptation programs and eliminates provisions establishing a public health adaptation program.
Like its predecessors, Kerry-Lieberman’s adaptation program, included in large part in Title IV, §§6001-6011, incorporates a number of provision focused on managing the effects of climate change on natural resources in the United States:
Though these adaptation provisions may be an improvement over the status quo, they nonetheless retain many of the same key weaknesses as those in ACES and Boxer-Kerry that I and others have detailed here and here. In addition, Kerry-Lieberman eliminates a number of significant provisions adopted in ACES. These include:
Kerry-Lieberman also eliminates detailed language originally included in the Kerry-Boxer bill that authorize several new domestic programs for addressing specific climate change threats: (1) a research program to assist utilities in adapting to the effects of climate change on drinking water; (2) a water system partnership program to provide funds to States for water system adaptation projects; (3) a program to provide funds to States for flood control, protection, prevention and response projects; (4) a program to minimize increased risks from wildfires; and (5) funding for coastal and Great Lakes states to prepare for the effects of climate change on coastal resources.
Kerry-Lieberman does, however, appear to provide NOAA discretion to create water system, flood control, wildfire and coastal area programs (though it is unclear to me why NOAA would be the appropriate entity to create such programs).
Perhaps most worrying about the Kerry-Lieberman bill, however, is the proposed reduction in funds for domestic natural resource adaptation activities. Rather than increasing the amount of funding set aside for adaptation efforts, as many have been calling for, Kerry-Lieberman proposes less funding. Adaptation efforts would not even begin to receive funding until 2019, and even then domestic adaptation activities combined would only be allocated 0.75% of allowances (1.5% divided equally with international adaptation efforts). Adaptation funding would slowly increase as a percentage until 2030, when domestic adaptation funding would peak at 3% of total allowances. In contrast, ACES would begin domestic adaptation funding in 2012 at 1% and steadily increase such allocations to 4% by 2027. As a result, even the modest adaptation programs authorized by the bill very well may fail to provide sufficient support to state and federal agencies and private parties seeking to prepare and manage the approaching effects of climate change in the United States and worldwide.