U.S. Department of the Interior Climate Change Strategy
In addition to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from infrastructure and equipment, the Department of the Interior is also taking adaptation measures. One such example is the creation of a department-wide strategy to address climate change. A 2009 Secretarial Order called for the creation of an Energy and Climate Change Council that would oversee the establishment of eight regional Climate Science Centers and 21 Landscape Conservation Cooperatives. These initiatives will integrate climate change science and adaptation throughout the Interior’s bureaus and offices and create a unified adaptation vision for the Interior to bring to coordination efforts with other federal agencies.
The U.S. Department of the Interior and its associated bureaus and offices are primarily responsible for the management of the country’s land, water, and wildlife. Climate change has been recognized as a threat and the Interior has made strides to establish department-wide mitigation and adaptation strategies. Under the Department’s purview are the Bureaus of Indian Affairs, Land Management, and Reclamation; Minerals Management Service; National Park Service; Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and U.S. Geological Survey. Interior is concerned about a suite of climate change impacts, including increased air and water temperature, precipitation changes, sea level rise, and ocean acidification, and their associated risks to public health and safety and wildlife. In its existing framework, climate change is addressed in the Department’s individual bureaus and offices; with the release of Secretarial Order No. 3289 in September 2009, these activities will be more integrated and coordinated on local, regional, and national scales.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed Secretarial Order No. 3289 in September 2009, which established a department-wide climate change strategy, including the creation of an Energy and Climate Change Council and development of Climate Science Centers (CSCs) and Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs). The Council will be the primary vehicle for agency coordination to address climate change impacts internally; in addition the Council will work with other federal agencies like the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Council on Environmental Quality. Specifically, the order calls for the Council to ensure that every bureau and office in the Interior “consider and analyze potential climate change impacts when undertaking long-range planning exercises, setting priorities for scientific research and investigations, developing multi-year management plans, and making major decisions regarding potential use of resources under the Department’s purview.”
The CSCs currently exist as regional hubs of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. The realignment of these hubs as CSCs under the Interior will support the broader base of the Department’s bureaus and offices and enhance cooperation and management. The centers will facilitate scientific research, modeling, forecasting, and monitoring of climate impacts on the nation’s resources and serve as information centers for stakeholders in eight U.S. regions: Alaska, Pacific Islands, Northwest, Southwest, North Central, South Central, Northeast, and Southeast. These CSCs will provide climate data and tools for management to their associated Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs), which will in turn coordinate adaptation and management responses.
The Interior plans to create 21 LCCs, including Appalachian, California, Desert, Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers, Great Basin, Great Northern, Great Plains, Gulf Coast Prairie, Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks, North Atlantic, North Pacific, Peninsular Florida, Plains and Prairie Potholes, South Atlantic, Southern Rockies, Upper Midwest and Great Lakes, Aleutian and Bering Sea Islands, Arctic, Northwestern Interior Forest, Western Alaska, and Pacific Islands.
Outcomes and Conclusions
The U.S. Department of the Interior’s climate change strategy strengthens the coordination of climate research and management in its internal bureaus and offices and will support local, regional, and national responses to climate change. The CSCs will be established in different locations through a competitive bidding process between 2010 to 2012. Of the 21 planned LCCs, about 18 have been created or are in development.
Gregg, R. M. (2010). U.S. Department of the Interior Climate Change Strategy [Case study on a project of the U.S. Department of the Interior]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/us-department-interior-climate-change-strategy (Last updated January 2012)