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Press Release

NRDC Report Reveals 29 States Unprepared for Growing Water Threats to Economy, Health

Telepresser Recording

Listen to a recording of the telepresser event announcing NRDC's Ready or Not report, recorded on April 5, 2012.

Ready or Not Video and Transcripts

Report Overview

Steve Fleischli, Director, NRDC Water & Climate Program

View and download: report overview

Transcript: This report is the first of it's kind to take an in-depth look at the vulnerabilities that all 50 states face because of climate change and also to look at what those states are doing, or not doing, to address the risk of climate change.

The purpose of the report is to raise awareness about what states are doing, and how we can move forward to address climate change. At the same time, it also highlights the states that are taking action, that serve as an example for how we can prepare for the risks of climate change to our economy and to human health.

The Threat

Every community in the country is at risk or vulnerable because of climate change. In some places, that risk will be because of too much water, rising sea levels for example along the coast, or because of extreme weather events, extreme flooding. Other places will be at risk because of not enough water; because of drought, because water supply might not be available in the winter time, precipitation could fall as rain instead of snow, and then it might not be available later in the year when it's needed.

The Results

This report finds that 29 states or nearly 60% of the states in the United States are inadequately prepared to deal with the threats from climate change related to water.

Only nine states have developed comprehensive adaptation plans to address the threats from climate change. Six states have failed to address either the pollution that contributes to climate change, or to deal with planning for the threats associated with climate change.

The Solution

When it comes to climate change, there's no question that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the sensible, practical solution is to plan ahead, before it's too late. And every state must develop plans and act to protect the communities, the public health, and their economies from the impacts of climate change.

State-by-State Analyses

California

Ben Chou, Water Policy Analyst, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: In California, climate change could put at risk over 3 trillion dollars in assets, cause damages from 7 billion to 47 billion dollars a year. Fortunately, California is amongst the best prepared states in the country when it comes to preparing for climate change threats.

The state has an aggressive global warming pollution reduction plan, has developed and is implementing a solid and comprehensive plan to prepare for climate change threats.

As various state agencies, boards, and councils take action against climate change threats, it will be important for these groups to work together, and for cities and counties to receive guidance and support necessary to prepare for climate change threats as well.

Colorado

Ben Chou, Water Policy Analyst, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: In Colorado, studies show that by 2070, April snowpack -- an important source of water as it melts for the state -- could be cut by nearly 70%. Because of the impact of climate change on water resources in Colorado, the state has taken steps to evaluate the impact of climate change on water supplies.

Colorado has a plan to cut global warming pollution; and is evaluating how the Colorado River may be impacted by climate change. The state has also be proactive on determining how water needs might change over the next 40 years.

But Colorado will also need to look on how climate change threats on water will impact other areas like public health and flooding risks; so it's essential that the state create a comprehensive plan.

Florida

Steve Fleischli, Director, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: Florida is arguably one of the most vulnerable states in terms of climate change because of sea-level rise, but also because of vulnerability to water supplies. The tourism industry alone in Florida could lose $40 billion a year by 2050 if no action is taken.

Counties in Souther Florida have been leaders in addressing climate change issues, however Florida does not have a state-wide adaptation plan to address climate change, and therefore is ranked as a poorly performing state in terms of addressing climate change and the threats to communities, public health, and the economy.

Maryland

Ben Chou, Water Policy Analyst, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: Studies show that in Maryland, in the upcoming decades, the state could experience extreme reductions in winter snow volume. Fortunately, Maryland is among the best prepared states in the country, when it comes to preparing for climate change threats on water.

The state is aggressively reducing carbon pollution, has developed a solid and comprehensive plan, and is using green infrastructure and living shoreline strategies to reduce existing water problems.

To maintain the state's high ranking and planning momentum, it will be critical for Maryland state agencies to put these plans into action.

Michigan

Ben Chou, Water Policy Analyst, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: In Michigan, heavy rainfall events are expected to occur twice as often by the end of this century, potentially putting communities and public health at risk to things such as greater flooding and sewage overflows. Fortunately, several state agencies in Michigan have been preparing for climate change threats to water.

Michigan has plans in place to cut global warming pollution and several state agencies like the department of community health and the department of natural resources are preparing for climate change threats on water.

Michigan will greatly benefit for having an over-arching plan that guides how state agencies will prepare for these impacts.

Minnesota

Ben Chou, Water Policy Analyst, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: In Minnesota, heavy rainfall events already occurs twice as frequently as they did a century ago. This trend is only expected to continue, potentially putting communities and public health at risk to things such as greater flooding and sewer overflows.

Fortunately, several state agencies are preparing for climate change threats on water. This puts Minnesota well ahead of many other states across this country.

Minnesota has a plan in place to cut global warming pollution and is examining how water resources might be impacted by climate change. However, the state would greatly benefit from an over-arching to guide how state agencies are preparing for climate change threats.

Nevada

Steve Fleischli, Director, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: As the driest state in the country, Nevada will only face increasing water supply challenges because of climate change. Fortunately, the Souther Nevada Water Authority has taken important action to address water supply issues. However, Nevada as a whole does not have an adaptation plan to address climate change, and therefore ranks poorly in addressing climate change and its impact of the economy and public health.

New Hampshire

Ben Chou, Water Policy Analyst, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: In New Hampshire, the length of the winter snow season could be cut by 30-50% by 2050, which could potentially put at risk water supplies and winter sports. Luckily, the state is taking steps to evaluate the impact of climate change on water resources, and is helping local communities prepare for climate change.

New Hampshire is aggressively reducing carbon polluting from power plants, and is working with local communities to prepare them for sea level rise and more extreme storms. But the state also needs to evaluate how climate change may impact other things like public health and transportation, so it's critical that New Hampshire develop a comprehensive plan to prepare for these impacts.

New Mexico

Steve Fleischli, Director, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: Studies show that New Mexico could lose $26 billion and over 200,000 jobs by 2050 because of the impacts of climate change on water resources.

Fortunately, New Mexico has taken some steps to address the water supply challenges that it will face. However, New Mexico does not have a comprehensive state wide plan to address the impacts of climate change on its’ water resources. In addition, New Mexico is going backwards on addressing the pollution that contributes to climate change.

For these reasons, New Mexico is a poorly performing state when it comes to addressing climate change and its impacts on its communities, the public health and its economy.

New York

Ben Chou, Water Policy Analyst, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: New York just experienced one of the warmest winters on record, and studies show that by the end of this century, the winter snow season in the Adirondacks could be cut in half. Fortunately, New York is among a handful of states across the country that are taking steps to prepare for climate change threats on water.

New York is aggressively reducing carbon pollution from power plants, and has developed strategies to prepare for climate change threats on water.

While planning is a note-worthy first step, to effectively protect jobs, communities, and public health from climate change threats, it will be critical for New York state agencies to put plans into action.

Ohio

Steve Fleischli, Director, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: By 2050, Ohio could lose up to $27 billion and 167,000 jobs because of the impact of climate change on water availability. In addition, Ohio is expected to see increases intense storm events that could lead to additional flooding and impacts on waterways because of sewage spills.

Ohio lacks a state-wide plan to address both the pollution that contributes to climate change, as well as a plan to address the impacts that climate change could have on the state. Therefore, Ohio is ranked as one of the worst states in the country in addressing climate change and its impact on the economy, human health and the environment.

Pennsylvania

Ben Chou, Water Policy Analyst, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: In Pennsylvania, sea level rise could contribute to saltwater intrusion in the Delaware River, an important source of drinking water for millions of Pennsylvanians. Luckily, Pennsylvania is among a handful of states that have developed comprehensive plans to prepare for climate change threats. However, recent staffing reductions and budget cuts at state agencies are crippling the states abilities to implement these plans.

Texas

Steve Fleischli, Director, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: Texas is expected to suffer a curse of both too much water, and too little water because of climate change. In particular, sea-level rise will impact Chambers, Harris and Galveston Counties, and the droughts that we’ve recently seen in Texas will only increase in time because of climate change. Texas does not have a state-wide adaptation plan to address water-related risks of climate change and therefore texas is a poorly performing state in terms of addressing climate change and its impact on the economy, human health and the environment.

Virginia

Steve Fleischli, Director, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: The commonwealth of Virginia could lose $45 billion dollars and over 300,000 jobs by 2050 because of impacts on water availability alone in the state.

Fortunately, Virginia has taken some steps to address the pollution associated climate change, and Norfolk, Virginia in particular has been a leader in addressing sea-level rise issues. However, the commonwealth of Virginia does not have a state-wide adaptation plan to deal with climate change and therefore Virginia is a poorly performing state in terms of addressing climate change issues.

Wisconsin

Ben Chou, Water Policy Analyst, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Transcript: In Wisconsin, heavy rainfall events could occur 25% more frequently by the middle of the century. Fortunately, Wisconsin is among the best states in the country when it comes to preparing for climate change threats. The recent changes in the state government are hurting the state's ability to implement these plans.

Wisconsin has a plan to cut global warming pollution and has developed a comprehensive and solid plan to prepare for climate change threats. While Wisconsin has a good and comprehensive plan, it will be important for the state to prioritize implementation of this plan.

B-Roll Footage

Set-up shot: Steve Fleischli, Director, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Set-up shot: Ben Chou, Water Policy Analyst, NRDC Water & Climate Program

Other footage:

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