The States: "Hard Realities on the Environmental Disaster Front"

Resilience means survival as a growing number of budget-strapped states states face environmental disasters -- often climate-related -- with inadequate help from the federal government.

"Hot, bone-dry and unrelenting — such were the conditions across Kansas for much of 2012. Kansans have rarely seen anything worse. That is a powerful notion in a state that was buried under the Dust Bowl eight decades ago and suffered epic droughts in the 1950s and 1980s.

Prospects for the near future don't look much better, and state officials are well aware of the reality. "No matter how you say it, conditions are dry, and there's no positive outlook," says Tracy Streeter, who heads the Kansas Water Office.

Streeter's counterparts in much of the country offer their own versions of that bleak forecast. From the slow-moving, suffocating drought that wreaked havoc on crop conditions, to quick-punching, deadly tornados and tropical storms, many states are still picking up the pieces from 2012, while debating how best to mitigate what's on the horizon. (See Stateline infographic.)

In Kansas and Texas, that means pushing water conservation and weighing investments in infrastructure that could tap new supplies. States in the West will be looking for ways to prevent or neutralize destructive wildfires that have accompanied the hot, dry weather. Along the Hurricane-ravaged Mid-Atlantic coast, where policymakers are finally poised to get relief from Washington, questions loom about where and how to rebuild along the seashore.

But many states looking to guard against extreme and unpredictable weather are simultaneously struggling to fund basic government services. With that backdrop, states will aim to boost resilience using fewer resources."

Jim Malewitz reports for Pew's Stateline January 25, 2013.

Source: StateLine, 01/25/2013