5 Federal Agencies Charged With Lax Effort on Climate Change

September 26, 2007

Five federal agencies that are responsible for management of a high percentage of US lands and waters are doing a poor job preparing for the effects of climate change, according to a US Government Accountability Office report dated Aug. 7, 2007, and released Sept. 6, 2007.

Under an order issued by the departing Clinton administration in January 2001, the BLM, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service have been required to adopt and implement management plans and practices that better respond to a changing climate. GAO also evaluated two other agencies responsible for large swaths of land and water, the US Forest Service and NOAA.

GAO identified a wide range of anticipated physical, biological, economic, and social disruptions caused by climate change, some of which are already occurring, and determined that none of the agencies has made climate change a priority, nor do their strategic plans specifically address climate change. That has resulted in little or no direction given to those who deal with issues in the field. GAO acknowledges that part of the problem is a lack of reliable information for predicting local effects of climate change.

All five agencies said they are dealing with climate change, or beginning to do so, in an effective way.

The report was requested by senators John Kerry (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ).