October 28, 2009

Bill Would Mitigate Effects of Climate Change on Natural Resources

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall today introduced a bill aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change on resources like forests, clean water, and fish and wildlife habitat and the communities and economies that depend on these resources.

Reports from the last several seasons indicate that increasing temperatures associated with climate change are resulting in less snowpack in many regions of the country, thus changing the timing of snow-melt runoff. In New Mexico, an already arid state, this trend could be devastating.

“From increased drought to a rise in sea level, our country’s natural resources are at risk from the effects of climate change. As we work to reduce carbon emissions, we must also find ways to protect the things so important to New Mexicans like clean water and our fish and wildlife habitat,” Bingaman said.

“Climate change doesn’t just threaten our economy and security, it threatens our way of life. Scientists predict that global warming could give New Mexico the same climate as the Sonoran Desert in Chihuahua, Mexico – doing irreversible harm to the natural resources that our communities and economies depend on,” Udall said. “This legislation will help protect these special New Mexico places for generations to come.”

The Natural Resource Adaptation Act would:

  • Require all federal agencies, including the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation, to work together to prepare a national strategy and individual agency plans to reduce the negative impact of climate change on natural resources.
  • Establish a fund to help federal, state and tribal programs carry out work related to climate change adaptation, including restoring watersheds to ensure abundant clean water supplies, managing forest health and restoring wetlands to protect coastal communities.

“We often forget that healthy ecosystems are essential to human, as well as wildlife, needs. They are necessary to provide us with a clean and abundant drinking water supply, clean air, and habitat for a diversity of fish, wildlife and plant species,” Bingaman said.

“New Mexico is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, all of which depend on a healthy ecosystem,” Udall said. “As we continue working to combat global warming and create the clean energy economy of the future, we must ensure that our efforts include the protection of these natural resources.”