As Sen. Carper plans retirement, trade groups reflect on his longtime environmental advocacy

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

Sen. Tom Carper, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and a sponsor of industry-supported recycling bills, said Monday that he will not seek reelection for a fifth term.

Carper, D-Del., will stay in his seat until the end of his current term in January 2025. He is the co-chair of the Senate Recycling Caucus. He is also the sponsor of the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act and co-sponsor of the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act of 2023, two bills that have garnered strong support from the recycling and waste industry. 

Public listening sessions to inform the 2023-2028 Federal STEM Strategic Plan

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) will host a series of virtual listening sessions to inform the development of the 2023- 2028 Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Strategic Plan. As part of a robust public engagement plan, OSTP encourages input from all interested parties, including students, teachers, administrators, parents, researchers, employers, and others to provide information and perspectives on the challenges faced by – and within – the STEM ecosystem in the United States and solutions that might be implemented by the U.S. Government.

Format: Each listening session will focus on one aspect of the STEM ecosystem. The last session aims to include speakers unable to attend any of the earlier sessions and as such, will cover each of the five areas covered in the previous sessions. Registration is required to attend sessions.

If you would like to provide information in addition to or in lieu of your participation in the listening session, you may send a brief message to this public email address,

The IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute will be facilitating and moderating the meeting on OSTP’s behalf. The meeting will be recorded and participation implies consent for OSTP to capture your name, voice, and likeness, and anything you say may be recorded and transcribed for OSTP use.

The six upcoming listening sessions will be as follows:

Climate, federal workers loom large in Biden’s $6.8T budget

Read the full story at GreenWire.

President Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping $6.8 trillion budget plan Thursday that would increase federal spending on climate and clean energy programs while boosting pay for federal workers.

The White House’s budget proposal for fiscal 2024 aims to funnel more cash into the administration’s key policy priorities, including efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy. To increase revenue, the president wants to increase taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals and end tax subsidies for oil and gas companies.

Post office buys 9,250 electric vans, 14,000 charge stations

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

The U.S. Postal Service is buying 9,250 Ford Motor Co. electric vans and 14,000 charging stations as part of a move to switch its fleet to electric vehicles.

The service also is buying another 9,250 internal combustion vans from Fiat Chrysler in North America, now part of Amsterdam-based Stellantis. The Fiat Chrysler and Ford vehicles together will cost just over $1 billion.

With two key picks, Biden weaves climate into economy and regulations

Read the full story in the New York Times.

This week, President Biden announced that Lael Brainard, the vice chair of the Federal Reserve who is known for citing the financial risks posed by climate change, would become his top economic adviser.

Her appointment follows that of Richard Revesz, an environmental lawyer and an academic who is known for defending climate regulations, who last month became head of the White House’s top regulatory office — a place that has historically been viewed as the place where environmental controls go to die.

The appointments to two of the most powerful posts in the White House underscore how Mr. Biden has pursued an “all-of-government” approach to climate change, appointing people with backgrounds in climate policy to senior positions across federal agencies. It also illustrates his intent to use executive action to address global warming in the last two years of this term.

Powering Toward 100 Percent Clean Power by 2035: The Path to Carbon-Free Electricity After the Inflation Reduction Act

Download the report.

This paper outlines a roadmap towards 80 percent clean power by 2030 and 100 percent clean electricity by 2035, building on the passage of the IRA. With two years remaining in his first term, President Biden must continue to fill out his agenda using
standards, investments, and justice to tackle the climate crisis and build a thriving, just, and inclusive clean energy economy.

Climate Change: Options to Enhance the Resilience of Agricultural Producers and Reduce Federal Fiscal Exposure

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What GAO Found

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has efforts underway to encourage agricultural producers to enhance their resilience to climate change. Specifically, USDA has taken some steps to develop and disseminate information about climate change to producers and has goals to better integrate climate resilience into agency decision-making through annual updates to its climate adaptation and resilience plan. In addition, some USDA programs may provide indirect incentives for producers to enhance their climate resilience.

Through a review of literature and interviews with experts, GAO identified 13 potential options for USDA to enhance producers’ climate resilience (see table). Each option has strengths and limitations. For example, regional climate resilience strategic planning could improve coordination, but achieving consensus across a diverse set of stakeholders could be challenging.

Potential Options for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to Help Enhance Producers’ Climate Resilience
1.  Collect data on practices that enhance climate resilience.
2.  Expand technical assistance to prioritize and promote climate resilience.
3.  Prioritize climate resilience in whole-farm conservation planning.
4.  Expand the capacity and expertise of USDA’s Climate Hubs.
5.  Develop an agricultural climate resilience plan that addresses regional needs.
6.  Establish standards for climate-resilient agricultural operations.
7.  Revise the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Practice Standards to include climate resilience.
8.  Expand conservation program eligibility criteria to include and prioritize climate resilience.
9.  Expand the capacity of USDA’s conservation programs.
10.  Research the feasibility of incorporating climate resilience into crop insurance rates.
11. Require producer adoption of climate-resilient practices to claim crop insurance premium subsidies.
12. Offer crop insurance premium subsidies for climate-resilient operations.
13. Require producer adoption of climate-resilient practices to maintain Farm Bill Title I program eligibility.
Source: GAO analysis. | GAO-23-104557

Implementing multiple options offers the most potential to improve the climate resilience of agricultural producers, according to experts and GAO’s analysis using the Disaster Resilience Framework. This framework states that integrating strategic resilience goals can help decision makers focus on a wide variety of opportunities to reduce risk. USDA officials said that some of the options could be implemented administratively through resilience planning updates required by executive orders, while others would require additional authority. The appropriate mix of options is a policy choice that requires complex trade-off decisions. By analyzing options and incorporating them, as appropriate, in future climate resilience planning efforts, USDA could help meet its obligations under executive orders and inform legislative efforts to reduce fiscal exposure from the federal crop insurance program and agricultural disaster assistance programs.

Why GAO Did This Study

Agricultural production is projected to decline in regions with increased frequency and duration of climate change impacts, according to the Fourth National Climate Assessment. Congress has appropriated more than $15 billion in agricultural disaster relief in recent years. Extreme weather events also create fiscal exposure from the federal crop insurance program. In 2021, this program insured over 100 agricultural commodities, with a total program liability of $136.6 billion. In 2013, GAO added Limiting the Federal Government’s Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks to its High Risk List. Enhancing climate resilience—acting to reduce potential losses by planning for climate hazards—can help manage risks.

GAO was asked to review federal efforts to enhance the climate resilience of agriculture agricultural producers. This report examines (1) USDA’s efforts in this area and (2) potential options to further enhance them. GAO reviewed laws and regulations related to USDA’s climate resilience efforts; analyzed literature; interviewed experts and agency officials; and used GAO’s 2019 Disaster Resilience Framework to evaluate federal climate resilience activities.


GAO is recommending that USDA further analyze the options and integrate them into its ongoing climate resilience planning, as appropriate. USDA agreed with GAO’s recommendation.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency AffectedRecommendation
Department of AgricultureThe Secretary of Agriculture should ensure that the Climate Change Program Office, located within the Office of the Chief Economist, analyzes the options to enhance the climate resilience of agricultural producers that were identified in this report and integrates them, as appropriate, into USDA’s future climate resilience prioritization and planning efforts. Such analysis should include an explanation of USDA’s decision to prioritize or not prioritize the options identified in this report and the identification of any additional authority and resources that USDA would need to implement the options. (Recommendation 1)

Federal Energy and Water Management: Agencies Report Mixed Success in Meeting Efficiency Requirements, and Additional Data Are Needed

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What GAO Found

According to data from fiscal year 2021, federal agencies have a mixed record meeting the six energy and water efficiency requirements that GAO reviewed. There are 27 agencies that use the Department of Energy (DOE) Compliance Tracking System to report data on their performance in meeting these requirements. These data show that most agencies met, or almost met, two of the requirements and did not meet one requirement. GAO could not determine whether agencies fully met the other three requirements due to a lack of data, either because the implementation deadline had not passed and there were not yet available data, or because DOE does not track performance (see table).

Specifically, DOE does not track whether agencies entered water use data into a benchmarking system or followed up on implemented energy and water efficiency and conservation measures (ECM) within 4 years, as called for by DOE guidance. As a result, decision makers cannot be certain that agency officials are benchmarking water use data and measuring energy and water savings from implemented ECMs. Without tracking performance on these requirements, Congress cannot know the extent to which agencies have the data they need to make effective decisions to improve energy and water efficiency.

Agencies’ Performance in Meeting Six Energy and Water Efficiency Requirements, Fiscal Year 2021

RequirementNumber of agencies that met requirementPercent of agencies that met requirement
Identify covered facilities constituting at least 75 percent of facility energy or water use24 of 2788.9
Designate energy managers for covered facilities24 of 2788.9
Conduct evaluations at covered facilities every 4 years, subject to exception1 of 273.7
Enter data into a benchmarking system
Enter energy use data into a benchmarking system7 of 2725.9
Enter water use data into a benchmarking systemAgency performance not tracked
Implement energy and water conservation measuresAgency performance not yet available
Follow up on energy and water conservation measuresAgency performance not tracked
Note: Data are as of August 24, 2022. This table summarizes relevant requirements from 42 U.S.C. § 8253(f) and DOE guidance. For more details, see table 1 in this report. Source: GAO analysis of Department of Energy (DOE) Compliance Tracking System data. | GAO-23-105673

Officials GAO interviewed from selected agencies cited varied successes and challenges to meeting each of the six requirements, but the two most frequently cited were the success of using automated or centralized data and the challenge of insufficient resources. For example, agency officials told GAO that automated data allowed them to automatically upload data into a benchmarking system, rather than entering the data manually. Conversely, officials told GAO that insufficient funding or staffing made meeting the requirements challenging. Officials from one agency explained that they must conduct evaluations at agency facilities in remote locations. This makes evaluations more resource-intensive because of the time and expense of sending staff to those locations.

Why GAO Did This Study

The federal government is the single largest energy consumer in the United States. In fiscal year 2021, its roughly 350,000 buildings used more than 344 trillion Btu of energy and 119 billion gallons of water, according to DOE data. For decades, the federal government has taken steps to improve energy and water efficiency at federal facilities, including through laws and executive orders. In particular, six requirements from section 432 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, as amended, relate to the use of energy and water efficiency measures in federal facilities.

GAO was asked to review issues related to agency compliance with these energy and water efficiency requirements. This report examines (1) the extent to which agencies are complying with the six energy and water efficiency requirements and (2) the successes and challenges that selected agencies have encountered in their efforts toward meeting these requirements.

GAO reviewed DOE data on agency performance in meeting requirements; interviewed officials from six federal agencies, selected in part for facility size and energy use; and conducted a literature review.

America underwater: Extreme floods expose the flaws in FEMA’s risk maps

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

This year, extreme precipitation deluged communities across the United States — a hallmark risk of a warming climate. Government flood-insurance maps often left residents unprepared for the threat. A Washington Post analysis of videos taken by people who endured destruction from flooding pinpoints how federal maps are failing to reflect the growing peril that Americans face.

Energy Department rule would cut government building emissions 90 percent

Read the full story at The Hill.

A new proposed rule from the Biden administration would cut emissions from new federal buildings 90 percent from 2003 levels in the next two years.

Under the proposed rule, new or renovated federal buildings would be required to reduce emissions from the 2003 baseline by 90 percent beginning in 2025. Beginning in 2030, the rule would make new buildings and major renovations fully carbon-neutral, according to the Energy Department.