Dealing with Climate Change: A Moral Obligation

Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior

by Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior

President Obama understands that we have a moral obligation to future generations to leave our land, water and wildlife better than we found it.

The Administration this week unveiled another historic milestone in the President's bold Climate Action Plan. At the President's direction, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan proposal calls for cuts in carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States.

By 2030, the plan will reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide from 2005 levels and cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit.

Beyond benefiting public health and the economy, these reductions will greatly benefit the parks, refuges, other public lands and cultural resources entrusted to the Department of the Interior on behalf of all Americans. From the Gates of the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico and from Gettysburg to Guam, we see the effects of climate change.

The Department of the Interior is meeting the President's call to action on climate – from standing up homegrown renewable energy and transmission infrastructure, to reducing methane emissions while supporting safe and responsible energy development, to making lands and waters more resilient in the face of climate change.

Interior has developed a nationwide network of Climate Science Centers and Landscape Conservation Cooperatives through which scientists and land managers work together to translate science into hands-on solutions that partners from all levels of government and the private sector can use to make sure our resources are resilient.

Science and collaboration guide programs like coastal resilience grants that help shoreline communities prepare for climate change impacts, such as sea level rise and severe storms, and drought-stricken communities conserve water and reduce the risk of devastating wildfires.

Interior is on track to permit 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy on public lands by 2020 – enough energy to power 6 million homes – working alongside states, tribes and industry to build a clean energy future.

Dealing with climate change is not only a central challenge of the 21st century, but it is also a moral obligation and a necessity to advance our nation's economy, environment and public health. The Interior Department is committed to being a strong partner in these efforts to cut carbon pollution, balance thoughtful development with conservation, and create sustainable American jobs.

Sally Jewell is the U.S. Secretary of the Interior