Obama Visits Drought-Stricken California, Announces Climate Resilience Fund

During a recent visit to California, President Obama announced plans to help the farmers, small businesses, and communities that are being affected by the state’s drought. California is suffering through some of the driest years on record; nearly 99% of the state is drier than average, and 27 counties  have been declared primary natural disaster areas because of drought conditions. According to President Obama, climate change is largely to blame, saying that “this trend is going to get worse. And the hard truth is even if we do take action on climate change, carbon pollution has built up in our atmosphere for decades. The planet is slowly going to keep warming for a long time to come. So we’re going to have to stop looking at these disasters as something to wait for; we’ve got to start looking at these disasters as something to prepare for, to anticipate, to start building new infrastructure, to start having new plans, to recalibrate the baseline that we’re working off of.”

As a part of this plan, Obama outlined The view from Marine One en route to Firebaugh, Californiameasures, including transferring $100 million from the farm bill for livestock disaster assistance, an additional $15 million in relief for California and other states suffering from extreme drought, and a moratorium on water usage for new, non-essential landscaping projects at federal facilities.

In addition, Obama plans to add $1 billion to his proposed budget to establish a “Climate Resilience Fund” to encourage research on the impacts of climate change, development of technologies to help communities prepare for climate President Barack Obama tours a field with farmer Joe Del Bosque, his wife Maria, and California Gov. Jerry Brown in Los Banos, Calif., Feb. 14, 2014.change, and to establish incentives to build more resilient infrastructure. This funding is part of a move to focus “on how all these changes in weather patterns are going to have an impact up and down the United States — not just on the coast but inland as well — and how do we start preparing for that.” Climate change has already contributed to drought conditions and extreme weather events throughout the country, including wildfires, all of which have affected food production and resulted in increased agricultural and stormwater runoff. In 2010, the United States declared 81 presidential disasters, a figure that rose to 99 in 2011, contributing to an estimated $188 billion in costs and 1,107 fatalities. White House spokesman Matt Lehrich told POLITICO that Obama “is going to continue to make the case that climate change is already hurting Americans around the country and that it will only get worse for our children and grandchildren if we leave it for future generations to deal with.” Unfortunately, because a number of congressional Republicans  deny climate science, it is uncertain whether a budget would pass with the Climate Resilience Fund intact.



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