Highlights from Federal Agency Adaptation Plans Federal Strategies for Promoting and Removing Barriers to State, Local, and Tribal Adaptation

Federal agencies released updated adaptation and sustainability plans on October 31, 2014. The updated plans build and improve upon the first phase of plans released in 2013. For the first time the plans include discussion of how agencies can leverage existing federal programs to better support and remove barriers to state, local, and tribal adaptation efforts.

Federal programs, policies, and decisions will be critical to ensuring the long-term resilience of states and communities. Federal agencies deliver billions of dollars in financial assistance; they develop the data, tools, and models that are critical to informed climate decisionmaking; and federal regulatory programs, such as the Clean Water Act and National Flood Insurance Program, greatly affect state and local decisionmaking.

Updated federal agency adaptation plans include important analysis of these downstream effects of federal programs on state and local decisionmakers. Plans discuss barriers and identify strategies for promoting resilience at the state, local and tribal level. This report provides a summary of the adaptation plans of key federal agencies: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Commerce (DOC) including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Interior (DOI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

FY 2013 Federal Agency Climate Change Adaptation Plans: Summary of Research and Information Needs

In June 2013, President Obama announced his comprehensive plan for steady, responsible action to cut carbon pollution, prepare the Nation for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address climate change as a global challenge. The Plan builds on significant progress made during the Administration’s first term on all of these fronts, including those based on the ongoing scientific work of USGCRP’s 13 member-agencies, the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force in which USGCRP participates, and USGCRP’s National Climate Assessment team (see Box 1).5 The President’s plan contains a full section on the critical need to prepare for the impacts of a changing climate that are already being felt across the country, including by “ensuring that Federal operations and facilities continue to protect and serve citizens in a changing climate.”

In addition to its impacts on communities, public health, businesses, ecosystems, and a range of economic sectors, climate change poses an array of potential challenges and opportunities for Federal Government operations, programs, services, and assets.6 Abrupt and gradual climaterelated changes in sea level, permafrost thawing, extreme precipitation, intense heat waves, sea ice melt, ocean acidification, water scarcity, and an increase in the frequency and severity of climate change-influenced natural disasters are among the risks that the Federal Government needs to consider in order to continue meeting its missions for the Nation in future. Given the impacts the Nation is already experiencing, and the projected changes in climate; we now face the reality mitigation measures alone will not minimize the Nation’s risks to changes in the climate; we must also prepare for and respond to these changes in the climate. Climate change adaptation is a critical step towards ensuring the resilience of the Nation’s built infrastructure, natural resources, and human populations.

In June 2012, the Federal Government took a major step forward by requiring, for the first time, that individual agencies produce Climate Change Adaptation Plans. Under the implementation guidance of Executive Order 13514 – Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, each Federal agency was required to include a climate change adaptation and action plan as an appendix to its annual Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan. In these plans, agencies were asked to: (1) develop a high-level vulnerability analysis; (2) identify appropriate adaptation actions; and (3) develop an implementation plan for fiscal year 2013 (FY13). The plans were intended to help agencies identify actions to reduce and manage the harmful effects climate change and take advantage of new opportunities that climate change may bring, primarily as related to agency missions.7 Agencies consulted a number of resources as they compiled adaptation plans, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) was cited uniformly as one of the best resources for climate science and climate change information to support the development of agency adaptation plans and actions.

Following submission of the FY13 Agency Climate Change Adaptation Plans, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) reviewed each plan (June 2012 – January 2013) and then released the plans to the public8 (February 2013), beginning a 60-day public comment period that ended in April 2013. The agencies are now focused on implementing the actions they put forth in their plans, and preparing to update their Adaptation Plans in future years.

Flooded Bus Barns and Buckled Rails: Public Transportation and Climate Change Adaptation

The objective of this project is to provide transit professionals with information and analysis relevant to adapting U.S. public transportation assets and services to climate change impacts. Climate impacts such as heat waves and flooding will hinder agencies’ ability to achieve goals such as attaining a state of good repair and providing reliability and safety. The report examines anticipated climate impacts on U.S. transit and current climate change adaptation efforts by domestic and foreign transit agencies. It further examines the availability of vulnerability assessment, risk management, and adaptation planning tools as well as their applicability to public transportation agencies. The report provides examples of adaptation strategies and discusses how transit agencies might incorporate climate change adaptation into their organizational structures and existing activities such as asset management systems, planning, and emergency response. By focusing specifically on public transportation, and the unique assets, circumstances, and operations of that mode, the report supplements transportation sector wide studies whose scopes did not allow for more in-depth treatment of transit.

Beyond Unintended Consequences: Adaptation for Gulf Coast Resiliency and Sustainability

The Gulf Coast faces a constant storm. Man’s efforts to tame the Mississippi River with flood control structures have led to many unintended consequences, primarily the degradation of the Mississippi River Delta. Throughout the Gulf Region, land loss caused by subsidence, sea-level rise, and the alteration of critical environmental processes has stripped the Gulf Coast of its natural defenses and is accelerating the collapse of coastal ecosystems.

A decade of catastrophic events marked by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, have further devastated one of the most fragile landscapes on the planet. Such incidents have highlighted the region’s significance and its vulnerabilities, yet complacency and a false sense of security have returned. Disasters that should have sparked a reckoning instead produced only minor reforms, and so the status quo has become yet another force battering the Gulf Coast.

The deterioration of America’s WETLAND and key assets of America’s Energy Coast is jeopardizing the tremendous benefits provided by a healthy Gulf Coast to the nation. Yet, even as awareness of the Gulf’s importance grows, this recognition faces a policy and regulatory reality that responds to consequences but does not work to achieve real sustainability. Comprehensive solutions must be implemented or the region’s irreplaceable resources will be lost in a matter of decades. Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Ike, Gustav, Isaac: the next big storm is always here.

There is a movement afoot, however, to face reality and adapt to change. This empowerment comes in the form of community efforts, comprehensive state plans for coastal restoration and protection, public/private partnerships, and self-taxation to provide emergency funding for projects that cannot abide an onerous and expensive federal process.

Consider the unfortunate example of Louisiana, where the costly practice of waiting for disaster to strike has exacted an astronomical post-Katrina toll — just to bring coastal communities back to pre-storm conditions. The $140 billion in estimated recovery costs makes earlier projections of $14 billion for coastal restoration seem like a bargain today. To protect national, state and local assets now, a minimum of $50 billion is required to save the coast in Louisiana alone. The price tag may seem high, but will we again make a tragic miscalculation and wait until the damage is done?

This report reflects a combination of grassroots experience and scientific research. Eleven forums were held over 14 months across five states seeking answers to how a faltering coastal landscape can be made more resilient in an age of mounting challenges. Some of the recommendations are common sense. Others will require a push from Washington to move past years of failed practices and outdated, conflicting federal processes that too often slow or stop real restoration.

Gulf Coast communities have welcomed self-inspection, criticism and the resolution of historical differences because they must. This has not been a perfect process, but it has been effective, and it demands action.

Blue Ribbon Resilient Communities across the Gulf are working to stop merely reacting to unintended consequences. The goal is to anticipate, to prepare and, most of all, to adapt. Join us as we move swiftly to prevail against the constant storm.

Climate Change and Resilience within Remediation: Environmental Agencies’ Perspectives


Please join us for the second in a webinar series co-hosted by EcoAdapt and the Sustainable Remediation Forum (SURF) examining climate change and resilience within remediation of contaminated lands. This webinar will feature highlights of the programs being implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State Of Massachusetts. We will also discuss progress in SURF’s 2016 research initiative on this timely topic.


Carlos Pachon, USEPA

Carlos is an Environmental Protection Specialist, based at the USEPA headquarters in Washington, DC. He leads a cross-agency effort to advance the USEPA’s "Principles for Green Remediation" and climate change adaptation practices in cleanup programs. To this end, Carlos is privileged to collaborate with the 10 USEPA regions and work with all of the people implementing cleanups in Superfund and other programs. Carlos has been with the USEPA for 18 years and holds a B.S. in Watershed Sciences, a M.S. in Environmental Management, and a MBA.


Anne Dailey, USEPA

Anne Dailey is a Senior Environmental Scientist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation. Among other duties, Anne co-led development of EPA’s recently issued series of Superfund climate change adaptation technical fact sheets. In addition to climate change adaptation, Anne also works on groundwater issues and is the Superfund Completions Coordinator and Superfund Tribal Coordinator. Prior to joining EPA Headquarters four years ago, Anne worked for more than 20 years in EPA Region 10 (Seattle) in both the Superfund and Water programs. Anne has a Bachelor of Science in Geology and a Master’s of Science in Oceanography from the University of Washington.


Thomas M. Potter, Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection

With over twenty-four years of experience in the field of waste site cleanup, Thomas currently serves as the Statewide Clean Energy Development Coordinator for the Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). Thomas previously served on the MassDEP’s Commissioner’s Office Environmental Innovations Team to help expand energy-environmental coordination across MassDEP programs and regions. Thomas also served for ten years as the Statewide Audit Coordinator for MassDEP’s Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup Audit Program. Prior to joining the MassDEP, Thomas worked throughout New England as an environmental consultant, concentrating primarily on sites regulated under the Massachusetts waste site cleanup program. Mr. Potter has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.


Barbara Maco, Vice President, Sustainable Remediation Forum (SURF) US Board of Trustees

Barbara supports private and public sector clients with projects focused on sustainable remediation, redevelopment, and renewable energy generation on impaired lands. At the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, she served as a Senior Remedial Project Manager and Greener Cleanup Coordinator, and facilitated the first EPA Memorandums of Understanding with a military service. Her projects have included international and U.S. federal and state Superfund sites, brownfields, and military munitions response sites. Barbara served on the scientific committees for both the Third and Fourth International Sustainable Remediation Forums. Barbara holds a BA in Ecological Systems and a Masters in Business Administration in Sustainable Management. Barbara co-leads SURFs technical initiative researching Climate Change and Resilience within Sustainable Remediation.

Miami Beach Stormwater Master Plan


The Storm Water Utility Division manages and controls the amount of effluents which are discharged into the City's storm water system. This division is responsible for maintaining storm water lines; installing catchment filter basins to reduce and eliminate polluted storm water run-off; complying with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements; and relieving flooding conditions.

Storm Water Management Master Plan

The City is in the process of developing a new Citywide Storm Water Management Master Plan. On August 17, 2012, the City's consultant CDM Smith presented a summary of their findings and recommendations. Their sub-consultant Coastal Systems International, who developed the appendix on sea level rise, climate change and tidal boundary conditions also presented their findings and recommendations.

Resilient Oakland - It Takes a Town to Thrive

Oakland is one of the most diverse, creative and progressive urban coastal cities in the United States.

As a major city in the Bay Area, Oakland also sits within one of the most prosperous economic growth engines in the world. The benefits of this growth, as acutely felt in Oakland, are not equitably distributed. Today, particularly among low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, Oakland faces rapidly rising income inequality and housing displacement, disparate unemployment and education rates, and chronic violence. Aging housing stock and public infrastructure challenged by seismic and climate risk further threaten Oakland residents, particularly our most vulnerable communities. Resilient Oakland embraces Oakland’s strengths while tackling the daily and chronic stresses facing Oaklanders today and better preparing for tomorrow’s challenges.

Resilient Oakland is not a finished product or a plan in the traditional sense. Rather, this playbook is a call to action. Resilient Oakland sets forth the work we need to do to begin modernizing our City by integrating processes, policies and programs that achieve greater impact.

The Resilient Oakland playbook is a holistic set of strategies and actions to tackle systemic, interdependent challenges. This includes equitable access to quality education and jobs, housing security, community safety and vibrant infrastructure, which will better prepare us for shocks like earthquakes and climate change impacts.

Through this work, we are changing the way we do government. And in the process, we are making our institutions—both local and regional—more resilient and responsive to whatever may come our way.

Gulf South Rising 2015 - Final Report

Gulf South Rising was a regional movement of coordinated actions and events to highlight the impact of the global climate crisis on the Gulf South region. Through collaborative events and actions around strategic dates in 2015, Gulf South Rising demanded a just transition away from extractive industries, discriminatory policies, and unjust practices that hinder equitable recovery from disaster and impede the development of sustainable communities.

This year-long initiative

  1. built regional movement infrastructure;
  2. connected and convened frontline communities around collective healing and ecological equity;
  3. advanced regional efforts of indigenous tribal and land sovereignty and
  4. shifted the regional narrative from resilience to resistance.

The Gulf South Rising (GSR) Strategy Document was created through a five-year community process anchored by the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy using People’s Movement Assemblies (PMAs) as the method for community-based issue mapping and agenda setting. The PMA process allowed frontline community members of the Gulf South to collectively identify their own problems and vision their own solutions. Notes and decisions from five years of these PMAs across the region were synthesized into the Gulf South Rising strategy document. The Gulf South Rising Strategy Document principles for moving together, defined broad goals and specific objectives for the initiative, and structured collective regional actions around the 2015 calendar year.

The year 2015 was a movement year for the Gulf South and the Nation. Important “Movement Dates” included 50 years since the Selma March, 10 years since Hurricane Katrina, 5 years since the BP Deepwater Horizon Explosion, 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War, 50 years since the Voting Rights Act, and many more. Through shared work around these “Movement Dates” the Gulf South Rising initiative aimed to amplify the good work continuously being done in the Gulf South and connect authentic community across the region.

While crafted around commemorations. The Gulf South Rising initiative was strategically more than the sum of its parts. A regional collective of residents developed and supported leadership on the ground through the shared work of many of these commemorations. The GSR initiative created a culture of engagement and decision-making rooted in true democracy, trained local advocates on the intersection of climate change and social justice, and ensured that stories were told authentically by the people of the Gulf South. Gulf South Rising collectivized the 2015 movement energy in the region to support self-determination at the grassroots level for Gulf South communities. Participants in this 12-month initiative have determined that the Gulf South is Rising.

Climate Change And Resilience Within Sustainable Remediation

This webinar is offered as part of the National Adaptation Forum Webinar series and hosted by U.S. Sustainable Remediation Forum (http://www.sustainableremediation.org/), EcoAdapt, and the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKEx.org). It will feature highlights of the recent Sustainable Remediation Forum (SURF) conference on Climate Change and Resilience within Remediation, including a comprehensive overview of challenges and opportunities, with a focus on the legal and insurance implications. We will also introduce the new SURF US Technical Initiative that will evaluate the necessary planning, research and activities to ensure the long term sustainability of site remediation, and examine the benefits of rehabilitated land to strengthen community and ecosystem resilience.

Canadian Extreme Water Level Adaptation Tool (CAN-EWLAT)


Bedford Institute of Oceanography
1 Challenger Drive P.O. Box 1006
B2Y 4A2 Dartmouth
Tool Overview: 

Extreme water level along the marine coastline is a result of a combination of storm surge, tides, and ocean waves. Future projections of climate change in the marine environment indicate that rising sea level and declining sea ice will cause changes in extreme water levels, which will impact Canada's coastlines and the infrastructure in these areas. Understanding these changes is essential for developing adaptation strategies that can minimize the harmful effects that may result.