Obama Launches Climate Hubs By Executive Edict

Photo courtesy of Pen Waggener via Flickr; USDA logo from Wikimedia Commons

What are climate hubs, where are they located, and what role do they play in the Obama administration’s goal to advance climate policy? 

Following announcements in this year’s State of the Union Speech, a number of executive pushes by the President himself are in the works – including the retirement plan myRA, which we’ve written about previously.

The latest? A plan to establish seven regional “climate hubs” to help Americans respond to the risk of climate change, which Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak spoke about on Wednesday, February 5, 2014.

Technically speaking, the hubs are regional centers which will be overseen by the Department of Agriculture, designed to prepare farmers and rural communities to handle issues such as extreme weather, drought, fire, pests, and floods.

According to The United States Department of Agriculture:

“USDA’s regional hubs will deliver information to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to help them adapt to climate change and weather variability. The Hubs will build capacity within USDA to provide information and guidance on technologies and risk management practices at regional and local scales.”

Where will they be located?

According to Reuters, citing a White House official, the hubs will be located in Ames, Iowa; Durham, N.H.; Raleigh, N.C.; Fort Collins, Colo.; El Reno, Okla.; Corvallis, Ore.; and Las Cruces, N.M.  with additional “sub hubs” in Rio Piedras, P.R.; Davis, C.A; and Houghton, M.I. Michigan.

Why create these hubs?

As a likely result of climate change, Reuters says, the Midwest has been experiencing a longer crop season, a fire season 60 days longer than it was 30 years ago, and droughts that have caused the U.S. $50 billion in the last three years. Climate hubs will provide the technological and scientific resources to handle such changes.

The announcement of climate hubs comes right on the heel of a $100 billion long-term Farm Bill passed Tuesday February 4, which expanded crop insurance. Though the bill was a clear win for farmers, it may result in losses for the poor due to related cuts in food stamps, according to the NY Times.

What’s next?

The plan for these regional hubs is only one part of Obama’s 2014 climate change priority, along with other measures the administration has promised to take with or without Congress approval in a campaign to advance climate policy.

According to the NY Times, up next will likely be regulations drafted by the EPA to limit carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants – a decision 7 in 10 Americans (pdf) are in favor of, despite objections from the coal industry.

Jennifer Markert