Bingaman natural resources planning bill underscores need to move on climate change adaptation

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The Natural Resources Climate Adaptation Act of 2009, introduced by Senator Bingaman on October 27, would require federal agencies to prepare a national strategy and agency plans to minimize the adverse impacts of climate change on natural resources and maximize resilience. We support moving on adaptation, CSW director Rick Piltz told the Law360 newswire, though neither this new bill nor the parallel language in the Kerry-Boxer Senate climate and clean energy bill gives enough weight yet to adaptive preparedness for climate change impacts on society and infrastructure, in addition to natural resources.

S. 1933—Natural Resources Climate Adaptation Act

News release on S. 1933

From Law360, newswire for business lawyers (by subscription) (excerpt):

Seeking to use science and natural resources management to combat the negative effects of global warming, three senators from disparate corners of the country have unveiled new legislation to protect forests, coastlines and wildlife habitats and the people who rely on those resources for their livelihoods….

[T]his new legislation was conceived independently and is not intended to shore up or support other initiatives currently under consideration, including Boxer-Kerry and the Waxman-Markey climate and clean energy bill recently introduced in the House, a spokesperson for Sen. Bingaman said Tuesday.

The language of the Bingaman-Whitehouse-Baucus bill is not fundamentally different from the natural resource adaptation portions of the Boxer-Kerry legislation, according to Rick Piltz, director of Climate Science Watch in Washington.

The new bill differs most significantly from Boxer-Kerry in its exclusion of a specific funding mechanism, which removes from the table what has become one of the most controversial aspects of climate change legislation: cap-and-trade, Piltz said Tuesday.

“[T]his underscores the need to move on this type of planning regardless of what happens to the cap-and-trade bill,” he said. The new legislation could be an effort of these senators to carve the conservation efforts out of the earlier bills to get some movement now while the rest of the initiatives are bogged down by discussions over funding, he added….

Neither this new bill nor Boxer-Kerry gives enough weight to infrastructure or transportation needs that have developed and will continue to develop as a result of global warming, Piltz said, adding that Bingaman does keep the resource management discussion active.

“[The new bill] recognizes that in addition to trying to reduce heat-trapping gases, we are going to have to manage what have become unavoidable impacts.”…

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