Government and Sustainability

Mayor advises federal task force on climate

November 4, 2013
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Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell will advise the Obama administration on how the federal government can help communities deal with extreme weather and other climate impacts.

President Barack Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience selected Heartwell as a member. In turn, Heartwell will contribute his thoughts on how the task force can cut carbon pollution and prepare urban areas for climate change.

“I consider it a high honor to be asked to serve on this important task force,” Heartwell said.

“Grand Rapids has distinguished itself among American cities for our aggressive work on climate protection and climate change resiliency," added Heartwell. "Appointment by the president to the task force will ensure that our experience influences the national agenda."

Federal climate policy

The president announced the task force's formation on Nov. 1. Obama said it is comprised of state, local and tribal leaders who will advise his administration on how the federal government can better assist local communities to cope with climate changes.

At the same time, the president also created the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which will be chaired by the White House and will include more than 25 agencies that will be charged to develop, coordinate and implement related actions.

Obama also directed federal agencies to examine their policies and programs to find ways to remove barriers to climate-resilience-focused actions and investments.

The president sees the creation of the task force and the council as common sense steps to help ensure that the nation’s infrastructure, communities and natural resources are resilient to the rise of sea levels, frequent larger storms, increased drought and other climate-change issues that the country, states and cities are facing.

Obama signed the executive order that established the task force on Oct. 5, 2009 and announced his plan for it last June.

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