Obama Wants Congress to Help With Climate Agenda After All


In this Sept. 19, 2012, photo corn plants weakened by the drought lie on the ground after being knocked over by rain in Bennington, Neb.
National Journal
Ben Geman
Feb. 14, 2014, 3:46 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama’s up­com­ing 2015 budget plan will pro­pose a $1 bil­lion Cli­mate Re­si­li­ence Fund to help com­munit­ies na­tion­wide pre­pare for ex­treme weath­er linked to glob­al warm­ing, the White House an­nounced Fri­day.

The big-tick­et pieces of the White House cli­mate agenda, not­ably car­bon-emis­sions reg­u­la­tions for power plants, rely on ex­ec­ut­ive powers at a time when cli­mate le­gis­la­tion is dead on Cap­it­ol Hill.

But the newly pro­posed “re­si­li­ence” fund, which will be in the budget plan re­leased in March, would re­quire ap­prov­al from Con­gress. The fund would add to ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions aimed at help­ing cit­ies and towns harden de­fenses against cli­mat­ic changes that are already un­der­way.

“We know that, sci­en­tific­ally, no single epis­ode of ex­treme weath­er, no storm, no flood, no drought can be said to have been caused by glob­al cli­mate change. But the glob­al cli­mate has now been so ex­tens­ively im­pacted by the hu­man-caused buildup of green­house gases that weath­er prac­tic­ally every­where is be­ing in­flu­enced by cli­mate change,” said John Hold­ren, the White House sci­ence ad­viser, on a call with re­port­ers Thursday.

The pro­posed fund would in­vest in re­search and “un­lock” data and in­form­a­tion to im­prove know­ledge of the ef­fects of cli­mate change and how to bet­ter pre­pare com­munit­ies and in­fra­struc­ture, the White House said. It would also as­sist loc­al pre­par­a­tion ef­forts and “fund break­through tech­no­lo­gies and re­si­li­ent in­fra­struc­ture,” ac­cord­ing to a sum­mary.

Obama is vis­it­ing drought-stricken Cali­for­nia on Fri­day, where he’s also an­noun­cing a pack­age of dis­aster as­sist­ance for Cali­for­nia and oth­er states that’s drawn from funds provided through the re­cently passed farm bill.

Cali­for­nia alone could re­ceive up to $100 mil­lion for its 2014 losses. Na­tion­wide aid could total about $1 bil­lion, of­fi­cials said.

Of­fi­cials said they are speed­ing up the pro­cess for pro­du­cers to ac­cess dis­aster as­sist­ance. Ag­ri­cul­ture Sec­ret­ary Tom Vil­sack said the pro­cess usu­ally takes six to eight months, but that fed­er­al of­fi­cials plan to com­press the ap­plic­a­tion timeline down to two months, with checks ar­riv­ing shortly there­after.

“The pres­id­ent will dir­ect the De­part­ment of Ag­ri­cul­ture to ac­cel­er­ate in an his­tor­ic ef­fort to get the dis­aster pro­grams now au­thor­ized un­der the farm bill to a point where farm­ers and pro­du­cers in Cali­for­nia and across the coun­try will be able to ap­ply for dis­aster as­sist­ance,” Vil­sack said.

Obama is slated to vis­it a Fresno-area farm and speak with farm­ers and oth­ers af­fected by drought, and he’s also de­liv­er­ing a speech, the White House said.

“You can cer­tainly ex­pect that the pres­id­ent will talk about the con­nec­tion between the in­creas­ing fre­quency and in­tens­ity of droughts and cli­mate change,” Hold­ren said.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4696) }}

What We're Following See More »
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
1 days ago

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.