AUSTIN, Texas — A new report out Thursday highlighted the impacts of climate change across the country. In Texas, the Environmental Protection Agency noted climate change has been and will continue to contribute to worsening droughts, more extreme weather events, rising sea levels along the coast, and flooding concerns.
In the report, the EPA identified those as the biggest vulnerabilities for Texas.
"This is an update of one that was done in 2014 to just basically prepare the federal government for a warming planet," Luke Metzger, who leads Environment Texas, said. "I would contrast, you know, what the federal government is doing with what the State of Texas is doing, which is basically not even acknowledging climate change, much less developing an action plan to make sure that we're adapting to any changes and we're hardening our infrastructure to be more resilient against, you know, extreme weather."
However, Metzger noted in the most recent legislative sessions, the state made adapting to climate change a priority in regard to electric grid resiliency.
According to the report, the EPA has already made some efforts in Texas to adapt to climate change in the form of training and communications as well as shoring up flood response resources.
The Lower Colorado River Authority, in an August interview, acknowledged Central Texas already deals with extreme drought and flooding.
"I've lived in this part of the world all my life and through multiple cycles of droughts and floods. And it's never occurred to me the reality is any other way," John Hofmann, the executive vice president of water at LCRA, joked. "We either are in a drought or we're in a flood cycle. We're never in between very often."
The report suggests a certain vicious circle of worsening weather events connected to climate change: pollutants ruin the ozone layer, which in turn worsens drought conditions and raises temperatures, which in turn increases demand on the grid because of air conditioning usage and powering cooling mechanisms for power plants, which in turn puts increased demand on the water supply for the cooling mechanisms.
"If we don't take action to reduce the pollution causing climate change, that those impacts are only going to grow worse," Metzger noted. "We'll see a future with more long and severe droughts, more heat waves, more extreme weather, all of which is going to have a big impact both on our quality of life, on our economy and our actual health and safety."
“The Biden-Harris Administration is confronting the climate crisis through a whole-of-government approach," EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said. "The release of the Implementation Plans today marks significant progress in EPA’s efforts to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect human health and the environment.”
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