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November 8th 11:00 am | Staff Reports Print this article   Email this article   Create a Shortlink for this article

EPA releases plans for adapting to a changing climate

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its draft Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans for public review and comment this week. In support of President Obama's Climate Action Plan and Executive Order on Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change announced today, the Implementation Plans provide detailed information about the actions EPA plans to take across the country to help communities adapt to a changing climate.

"To meet our mission of protecting public health and the environment, EPA must help communities adapt to a changing climate," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "These Implementation Plans offer a roadmap for agency work to meet that responsibility, while carrying out President Obama's goal of preparing the country for climate-related challenges."

The impacts of a changing climate — including increased extreme weather, floods, and droughts — affect EPA's work to protect clean air and water. The draft Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans recognize that EPA must integrate climate adaptation planning into its programs, policies, rules, and operations to ensure that the agency's work continues to be effective even as the climate changes.

EPA released its draft agency Climate Change Adaptation Plan on Feb. 9, 2013 for public review and comment, and expects to issue the final version this Fall. In 2009, all federal agencies were required to develop Climate Change Adaptation Plans by the federal Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. Under Executive Order 13514, the Task Force was charged with developing recommendations for the President on how to increase the nation's resilience to climate change. The new Implementation Plans provide information about how EPA will meet the agency-wide priorities identified in the draft Climate Adaptation Plan released earlier this year.

The comment period on EPA's draft Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans closes on Jan. 3, 2014. More information on EPA's Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans can be found at http://epa.gov/climatechange/impacts-adaptation/fed-programs/EPA-impl-plans.html.

Regional director appointed to Polar Bear Commission

President Obama has appointed Geoffrey L. Haskett, regional director for the Alaska Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as the United States Commissioner for the U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission.

"I am honored to be appointed by President Obama to the U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission," Haskett said. "I look forward to working with the other commissioners on conservation of this shared, iconic species."

Haskett has represented the United States since the Commission's inaugural meeting in 2009. Haskett's leadership and commitment to science-based management and consensus building has been integral to the commission's progress on Alaska-Chukotka polar bear population conservation efforts on many fronts, a release said. Since 2009, the commission has taken numerous precedent-setting steps including establishing sustainable harvest levels for subsistence use of the population and developing a cooperative U.S.-Russia research and monitoring plan for a 440,825-square-mile area. These accomplishments are milestones for the conservation of our shared polar bear population, and a bright spot in U.S.-Russia relations, the service release said.

The U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission was established in 2000 under the Agreement on the Conservation and Management of the Alaska-Chukotka Polar Bear Population. This bilateral Agreement between the United States and Russia committed both nations to improving polar bear conservation and safeguarding the cultural and traditional use of polar bears by Native peoples in both countries. The Commission, comprised of government and Native representatives, two each from Russia and the United States, is responsible for implementing the conservation goals of the Agreement.

For more information about the treaty and Commission, please visit: http://alaska.fws.gov/fisheries/mmm/polarbear/bilateral.htm.

State board approves waivers for 24 school districts

 

JUNEAU ­— ­ The State Board of Education & Early Development, meeting by tele/videoconference on Oct. 28, approved waivers for 24 school districts from a state requirement to budget at least 70 percent of their operating funds on instruction.

 The districts are: Alaska Gateway, Aleutian Region, Aleutians East, Bristol Bay, Chatham, Copper River, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Iditarod, Kake, Kashunamiut, Kuspuk, Lake and Peninsula, Nome, North Slope, Northwest Arctic, Pelican, Pribilof, Saint Mary's, Skagway, Southeast Island, Tanana, Yukon Flats, and Yupiit.

 The number of districts seeking waivers was similar to the previous two years and down from the decade before that. Typically, districts requesting a waiver have budgets of under $3 million or the cost of operations and maintenance, such as energy, composes more than 20 percent of their budget.

 The State Board also sent out for public comment a proposed regulation that clarifies graduation rates required for small schools that are recognized by the state as highest performing or high progress.

 

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