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US DOT Policy Statement On Climate Change Adaptation

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June 2011

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) shall integrate consideration of climate change impacts and adaptation into the planning, operations, policies, and programs of DOT in order to ensure that taxpayer resources are invested wisely and that transportation infrastructure, services and operations remain effective in current and future climate conditions. The climate is changing and the transportation sector needs to prepare for its impacts. Through climate change adaptation efforts, the transportation sector can adjust to future changes, minimize negative effects and take advantage of new opportunities. Accordingly, DOT modal administrations shall incorporate consideration of climate adaptation into their planning processes and investment decisions. DOT encourages State, regional and local transportation agencies to consider climate change impacts in their decision-making, as well.

The DOT policy is to incorporate climate adaptation strategies into its transportation missions, programs, and operations. Climate change adaptation is a critical complement to mitigation efforts to address the causes and consequences of climate change. Every modal administration has the responsibility to consider climate change impacts on current systems and future investments. Furthermore, planning for climate adaptation assists State and local transportation agencies, and DOT, to identify how climate change is likely to impact their ability to achieve their mission, continue operations, and to meet policy and program objectives. Therefore, DOT agencies will develop, prioritize, implement, and evaluate actions to moderate climate risks and protect critical infrastructure using the best available science and information.

This policy is based on Executive Order (E.O.) 13514 - Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance. The E.O. includes direction to address climate adaptation planning. Additionally, the Secretary of Transportation has authority under 49 United States Code (U.S.C.) Section 322 - General Powers. This Policy is effective immediately and will remain in effect until it is amended, superseded, or revoked. This Policy does not alter or affect any existing duty or authority of individual components or Offices.

In implementing this Policy, DOT will adhere to the following guiding principles.

Guiding Principles for Climate Change Adaptation

Each modal administration within DOT shall, in a manner consistent and compatible with its mission:

The Counselor to the Secretary (in her capacity as DOT's Senior Sustainability Officer) and designated modal executives are responsible for ensuring implementation of this Policy supported by the Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy and the DOT Center for Climate Change.

The climate is changing and will impact the U.S. transportation system. Efforts are already underway at the Federal level and in some States and local areas, but more needs to be done. DOT will encourage efforts to ensure a transportation infrastructure that is resilient to climate impacts; however success will depend on the whole transportation sector embracing and implementing this policy.

Updated: 03/27/2014
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