Government agencies, individual states continue to address climate change without EPA

Matt Stensland
Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — References to climate change might be disappearing from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, but other government agencies and the private sector are still working to address the problem.

On Tuesday morning, Jan. 23, a group of television meteorologists in town for the 29th annual Weather Summit at Steamboat Ski Area heard from Bob Perciasepe, the EPA’s deputy administrator from 2009 to 2014. He also served as the acting administrator for six months.

These days, Perciasepe is president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C, that works with governments and businesses and facilitates discussions among climate negotiators internationally.

“The work we do is obviously complicated by the current administration’s desire to not pay much attention to climate change, but on the other hand, there are a lot of good things going on,” Perciasepe said.

Trump gave notice in August that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris Accord on Climate Change, which is an international agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

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“There are some people in the Trump administration working on what that better deal might be, so I would characterize the administration generally as in some way ambiguous to climate change to hostile, depending on where you are in the mix,” Perciasepe said.

He said that the EPA’s administration is “currently not interested in anything related to climate change.”

More work, fewer resources

Perciasepe said this is evident by references to climate change being removed from the EPA’s website. The EPA has also withdrawn its sponsorship of the Climate Leadership Conference, which Perciasepe’s nonprofit will host in February in Denver.

With 3,000 fewer employees today than the 18,000 employed by the EPA in 2004, the organization, responsible for establishing environmental regulations based on 30 laws passed by Congress over the years, has more work to do with fewer resources, according to Perciasepe.

During the first year of the new administration, Perciasepe said the EPA has not really changed any of its regulations related to clean air, water and other environmental issues.

“This year, I’m guessing some of those will actually get re-proposed,” Perciasepe said.

While the United States has announced its intentions to withdraw from the Paris agreement, Perciasepe said other countries have joined the accord, including Syria, Nicaragua and even North Korea.

Meanwhile, businesses, other government agencies and individual states continue to address climate change.

Perciasepe spoke about a power company in Michigan that has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gases by 80 percent by 2050.

Major corporations have pledged to reduce emissions, and almost 400 mayors have pledged to meet the Paris agreement goals in their own cities and towns — including mayors in the mountain towns of Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge, Frisco and Telluride.

Perciasepe said all of that combined has pushed down carbon dioxide emissions 24 percent since 2005, which is 75 percent of the 2030 goal outlined in the Clean Power Plan.

“You should recognize that things are happening without the federal government, but we can’t get to where we need to go without the federal government,” Perciasepe said.

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