GM 13-103

Executive Order on Preparing for Climate Change; Appointment of State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force of Climate Preparedness

On November 1, 2013, the President issued the attached Executive Order 13653, Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change. 76 Fed. Reg. 66819 (Nov. 6, 2013).Executive Order on Preparing for Climate Change; Appointment of State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force of Climate Preparedness On the same date, the White House issued the attached Fact Sheet on this Executive Order, which includes the names of officials whom the President has appointed to the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The establishment of the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force was announced in June in the President’s Climate Action Plan.

We also note that the Bureau of Indian Affairs recently announced in the attached notice a competitive grant program for climate change adaptation planning, which is open to tribes and to inter-tribal organizations, tribal colleges, and non-governmental organizations with documented tribal support. The total amount of funding available is $600,000, which the BIA acknowledges is insufficient. The deadline for applications is November 29, 2013.

The Executive Order establishes an interagency Council on Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience (Council) comprised of senior officials of 15 departments of the federal government and fifteen other federal agencies. This Council will be co-chaired by the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. The Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, which had been established in 2009, will terminate after the new Council has its first meeting, although working groups that had been created in conjunction with that Task Force may be given new charters to continue their work.

The mandate of the Council, as provided in section 2 of the Executive Order, is to “modernize” federal programs so that they support efforts by states, local communities, and tribes to make investments in resilience to climate change. In carrying out this mandate, the Council is directed to consider the recommendations of the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force. The Council is also directed to consider recommendations of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council established pursuant to Executive Order 13231 (Oct. 16, 2001).

Section 3 of the Executive Order directs seven named federal agencies to complete an “inventory and assessment of proposed and completed changes to their land- and water-related policies, programs, and regulations necessary to make the Nation’s watersheds, natural resources, and ecosystems, and the communities and economies that depend on them, more resilient in the face of a changing climate.” The agencies are directed to include in this assessment a timeline and plan for making changes in policies, programs, and regulations. The Executive Order calls for building on efforts already underway, citing three published interagency climate adaptation strategies.

Section 4 of the Executive Order directs federal agencies to work together to provide information and “decision-support tools” on climate preparedness and resilience to support efforts by federal agencies, states, local governments, tribes, the private sector and the non-profit sector. Section 5 of the Executive Order directs federal agencies to evaluate risks to their agency operations and missions posed by climate change. Each agency is directed to develop, implement, and update a comprehensive climate change adaptation plan, with the first update due in 120 days.

The State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force, as established by section 7 of the Executive Order, is comprised of the governors of eight states, fourteen mayors, two county officials, and two tribal officials. The tribal officials are the Chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Minnesota) and the Mayor of the Northwest Arctic Borough (Alaska). The mission of this Task Force is to provide recommendations for how the federal government can:
(i) remove barriers, create incentives, and otherwise modernize Federal programs to encourage investments, practices, and partnerships that facilitate increased resilience to climate impacts, including those associated with extreme weather;
(ii) provide useful climate preparedness tools and actionable information for States, local communities, and tribes, including through interagency collaboration as described in section 6 of [Executive Order 13653]; and
(iii) otherwise support State, local, and tribal preparedness for and resilience to climate change.

The Task Force has one year to develop its recommendations. Tribes that are interested in having their concerns and suggestions considered by Task Force will need to be aware of the short time frame in which it will be operating.

If we may be of further assistance regarding Executive Order 13653 or other matters relating to climate change resilience and preparedness, please contact us.