In this latest Climate Change and Energy update, the Administration announces the Solar Ready Vets Program and the POWER Initiative, releases a partnership with farmers and ranchers to address climate change, and issues an Executive Order to cut federal government emissions 40 percent by 2030. Keep reading to find out more!
Solar Ready Vets Program
On April 3, at an event at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, President Obama announced a suite of commitments to help drive growth in solar jobs, including launching a new Solar Ready Vets program to train transitioning military service personnel to enter the solar workforce. The President also announced an updated goal to train 75,000 new workers to enter the solar industry by 2020, and a commitment to achieve approval for G.I. Bill funding for the Solar Ready Vets initiative.
National Public Health Week
On April 7, President Obama and the Surgeon General convened a roundtable as part of National Public Health Week to discuss the health impacts of climate change and the need to take action to reduce carbon pollution. The Office of Science and Technology Policy launched a new health theme of the Climate Data Initiative , making more than 150 datasets available that describe and analyze climate change impacts on public health. Additionally, the Climate Resilience Toolkit was expanded with 20 new tools, including the first iteration of the Sustainable and Climate Resilient Health Care Facilities toolkit.
The White House also convened a roundtable with a number of Deans and representatives from medical, public health, and nursing universities and colleges that made commitments to ensure that the next generation of health professionals is trained to address the health impacts of climate change. Later this year, the White House will host a Climate Change and Health Summit featuring the Surgeon General.
Announcing a New Agenda to Modernize Energy Infrastructure
On April 21, Vice President Biden announced the first installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), a report that examines how to modernize our nation’s energy infrastructure to promote economic competitiveness, energy security, and environmental responsibility. This installment focuses on energy transmission, storage, and distribution — the networks of pipelines, wires, storage, waterways, railroads, and other facilities that form the critical backbone of our energy system.
The QER identifies opportunities these systems provide for a clean and secure energy future, as well as some growing and potential vulnerabilities of these systems. The report also proposes policy recommendations and investments to replace, protect, expand, and modernize TS&D infrastructure. In conjunction with the release of the QER, the Department of Energy announced the Partnership for Energy Sector Climate Resilience, a new public-private collaboration with leading providers of electricity services to improve the resilience of the nation’s energy infrastructure to extreme weather and climate change impacts.
On March 27, the Administration announced the POWER Initiative in conjunction with Governor Steve Beshear. The POWER Initiative is a coordinated multi-agency effort with the goal of effectively aligning, leveraging, and targeting a range of federal economic and workforce development programs and resources to assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector. The POWER initiative is a component of the POWER+ Plan, the President’s FY2016 budget proposal to invest in coal communities, workers, and technology.
The POWER Initiative is awarding grants on two parallel tracks to partnerships anchored in impacted communities. The first track was announced on April 27 and will provide up to $3 million in planning grants to assist coal communities in developing comprehensive economic development strategic plans for their regions. The second track, POWER Implementation Grants, will provide up to $35.5 million in funding to help coal communities.
Partnering with Farmers and Ranchers to Address Climate Change
On April 23, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack laid out a comprehensive approach to partner with agricultural producers to address the threat of climate change. Building on the creation of USDA’s Climate Hubs last year, the new initiatives will utilize voluntary, incentive-based conservation, forestry, and energy programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon sequestration, and expand renewable energy production in the agricultural and forestry sectors.
Through these efforts, USDA expects to reduce net emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by over 120 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year — about 2 percent of economy-wide net greenhouse emissions — by 2025. That is the equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road, or the emissions produced by powering nearly 11 million homes last year.
Federal Sustainability Executive Order
On March 19, President Obama signed a new Executive Order that will serve as the strategy for federal sustainability for the next decade. The overarching metric is a new federal greenhouse gas reduction target, which will be achieved through extending existing targets or setting new targets for advancing energy efficiency, cleaner vehicles, clean energy, and water-use consumption.
Wind Vision Report
On March 12, DOE released a new report that develops a renewed vision for U.S. wind power research, development, and deployment. The report found that the wind industry could support more than 600,000 jobs by 2050 and avoid more than 12 billion tons of carbon pollution cumulatively by 2050, equivalent to avoiding one-third of global annual carbon emissions.
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