Time to consider the ‘Climate Framework for Delaware’

It’s time to see what Delaware has come up with to become more resilient to climate change.

The Governor’s Cabinet Committee on Climate & Resiliency (CCoCAR) has written 159 recommendations for reducing greenhouse gases, minimizing flood risks and increasing resilience to climate impacts (such as changes in temperature, precipitation or sea level).

Now, the public and state agencies are able to provide feedback on these individual suggestions, found in “The Climate Framework for Delaware.”

The CCoCAR hosted a Climate Adaptation & Resilience Stakeholder Workshop on April 27 in Dover to discuss recommendations with the public and state agencies.

In 2013, Gov. Jack Markell signed Executive Order 41, directing state agencies to address both the causes and consequences of climate change.

Three workgroups coordinated to write the recommendations, which stretch across 11 state agencies, from agriculture and education to public health and homeland security.

For transportation, that might mean exploring new pavement technology or reevaluating emergency procedures. For natural resources, it could mean monitoring drainage infrastructure or preparing for shifts in wildlife migration as temperatures change.

For health and social services, expanding the time window for medicine refills, in case of extreme weather events, is one potential change.

DNREC Secretary David Small called the workshop “Chapter 2 or 3 in a book where we don’t know what the final chapters will look like. But I like to think the book we’re writing is a how-to book so … there won’t be too many surprises.”

When state planning is frequently only as broad as the annual budget cycle, the framework is designed to help agencies think longer-term.

Businesses, individuals and municipalities can certainly use the guidelines, too.

During the April 27 event, people attended different sessions just to address a handful of the most challenging or important of those 159 suggestions.

In one workshop discussion, state employees and beach-town leaders made a variety of suggestions.

One attendee suggested the state crack down on building in vulnerable areas, which may be underwater in 100 years, or not pay to bailout developers who build there anyway (with a grandfathering protection clause for existing growth).

South Bethany’s Jack Whitney spoke about building requirements.

“We have a tendency to lump new construction with renovation … and the impact is totally different, and it doesn’t seem to be recognized by the state,” Whitney said. “When you start talking about renovations, you’re affecting the little guy.”

Bethany Beach Town Councilman Lew Killmer pointed out that many inland towns have “barebones” budgets and council members who work full-time. Not every council member is retired with unlimited time, and that can impact how well towns prepare for climate change.

Newport Mayor Mike Spencer noted the price constraints of new studies and programs: “We’re willing to do anything anyone wants, as long as they give us the money.”

Bill Lucks said the Delaware Association of Realtors is concerned about property rights and mandatory disclosures, plus “on whose back will [costs be], and what sources of revenue are we considering?”

Be heard

Public comments on the Climate Framework will continue until May 30. The questionnaire can be completed online or printed out and mailed to DE Division of Energy and Climate; 1203 College Park Drive, Suite 101; Dover, DE 19904. The office can be reached at (302) 735-3480.

Learn more online at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/energy/Pages/Climate.aspx by clicking on “The Climate Framework for Delaware.”

“We are gathering public input on the recommendations outlined in the Climate Framework to help us continue to prepare for the impacts of climate change,” Markell has stated. “Our efforts to address climate change not only impact Delawareans today, but will have lasting benefits for our quality of life and the lives of our children and grandchildren.”