The ‘Delaware Way’ could be the national key to tackling climate change
Gerald Joseph McAdams Kauffman Jr.
April is Earth Month and State House in the White House it’s good to see vigorous action on water, climate and infrastructure.
Constitutionally, Delaware is the first state and is therefore in the water. Sitting on the Delmarva Peninsula 60 feet above sea level, Delaware is the lowest state with a quarter of its land in a floodplain and a 130 mile coastline with the cleanest ocean beaches in the world. country. Twenty years ago, Delaware passed laws creating the Water Supply Coordinating Council after the 1995-2002 drought emergency and the Farm Nutrient Management Commission to protect the Chesapeake Berries. and Inland and in 2000, Bill Clinton signed the bipartisan White Clay Creek Wild and Scenic River Act sponsored. by so-Sen. Joe Biden and Representative Joe Pitts, a Republican from Pennsylvania, to protect the interstate watershed which provides drinking water to one-fifth of the first state’s residents. These cooperative water programs from a generation ago are good examples of the “Delaware way” of getting along as a role model for the nation.
United States strategic water policy can tackle the four great challenges facing humanity – climate change, the pandemic, racial injustice and the economy. At the Barcelona Climate Change Conference in 2009, scientists agreed that “climate change is water change” – the Clausius-Clapeyron equation argues that air warmed by 2 degrees contains 7% of more water vapor, resulting in more flooding, drought, blizzards, melting glaciers and sea level rise. In March 2016, we were 200 scientists invited by former President Barack Obama to the White House Water Summit on United Nations World Water Day and after five years we are looking forward to Biden’s Earth Day. Mountain peak this week – which could turn out to be a 21st century Bretton Woods climate.
How do we know climate change is real? Because institutions like Wall Street, the Fed, and the US military all take it seriously. The IRS streamlines 40 green energy tax incentives to just 3 clean energy credits to boost wind, solar and electric investment. In 2020, by a vote of 5 to 0, the Fed joined the 75 central banks of the Network for the greening of the financial system in order to limit the economic risk linked to climate change. In 2019, the Pentagon warned Congress of national security and climate risks, where two-thirds of U.S. military bases are exposed to flooding, drought and wildfires. Catastrophic storms caused record-breaking $ 22 billion in damage in 2020 and, without FEMA’s intervention, could bankrupt the trillion-dollar floodplain mortgage market owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Good water policy in the United States is based on principles of law, economics, governance and science. Federal water policy culminated in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s with the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, NEPA, Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act and now a new environmental era is heralded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of $ 900 million of 2020, which passed 73 to 25 in the US Senate.
Watersheds are factories of flora and fauna that support a $ 260 billion economy through boating, fishing and birding and, after the 2008 recession, the American Recovery Act (ARRA) funded 4.6 million green jobs, reducing unemployment by 1.8%. As rivers cross state borders – resulting in hydro-politics – the EPA is expected to resurrect the watershed initiative targeted by former President George W. Bush who invested $ 1 million to restore the Brandywine River in Delaware and Pennsylvania. To train scientists for the workforce, the United States should operate the National Institutes of Water and Technology designated by Congress and authorized by President Lyndon B.’s Water Resources Research Act of 1964.
Under our federal system, US water policy is enforced by the White House, Congress, and 20 federal water offices in 10 government departments with a combined budget of $ 30 billion – Defense, Home Affairs, EPA, USDA, Energy, Commerce, USDOT, Homeland Security, NASA, and State.
Here are some ways in which these departments can leverage their resources in relation to water infrastructure:
- The US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Navy Seabees are expected to work together to build climate defenses.
- The Home Office is expected to protect 30% of US watersheds by 2030 and accelerate offshore wind leases to power 600 million homes by 2030.
- AmeriCorps funding is expected to be quadrupled to enable young people to work in the environment under the Community Service Trust Act of 1993.
- EPA should invest in the 40% of neighborhoods deprived by poverty and pollution, convert CWA state revolving loans back into Title VI grants, and protect headwaters that provide drinking water to 100 million Americans.
- USDA is expected to use FDR’s Farm Bill and Commodity Credit Corporation to fund regenerative agriculture (organic no-till and cover crops) on 20% of the United States to sequester 370 million tonnes of carbon.
- The US Forest Service is expected to reforest 36% of the nation to store carbon with profits of $ 690 billion / year.
- As a federal climate center, NOAA in commerce should be raised to be on par with the EPA and NASA.
- Reallocated to homeland security after 9/11, FEMA has been more responsive – and should remain so.
- The U.S. Coast Guard is a ready coast agency – as we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – and should lead the climate response in this maritime nation.
- The DOE predicts that wind and solar will overtake nuclear and coal by 2025 and approach natural gas by 2030, which means the United States could be low-carbon in a decade or so. years.
- USDOT is expected to adopt fuel standards and expand transit and electric vehicle fleet.
- NASA is monitoring the biosphere with a satellite budget of $ 2 billion that should be increased.
- The State Department is expected to re-commit to the 1991 UN Law of the Sea, 1997 Kyoto, and 2017 Paris treaties negotiated as the air warmed by 3 degrees F and emissions of CO2 increased by 20 gigatonnes.
- To guide U.S. water policy, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is expected to appoint a deputy director for water and climate in the White House.
U.S. investments in infrastructure make sense for the economy and ecology, because clean water – and air – is neither red nor blue, that’s clear.
Gerald Joseph McAdams Kauffman Jr. is director of the University of Delaware Water Resources Center.