Strategic Plan Supports President Biden’s Executive Order Calling on a Comprehensive Federal Response to Combating Climate Change 

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  In coordination with the White House, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released its 2021 Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan, an aggressive agenda to adopt agency-wide strategies to manage the short- and long-term effects of climate change in DOE’s operations. In support of President Biden’s executive order, DOE is adopting ambitious goals to develop science-based approaches to ensuring that its enterprise is prepared for the impending effects of climate change. The Department, which has 50 major sites spanning 2.4 million acres, making it the 4th largest Federal land manager, must lead by example in taking the proactive steps to modernize its infrastructure to meet the needs of this pivotal moment.  

“Even as we are full speed ahead in our efforts to slow climate change, its devastating effects are undoubtedly impacting our strategic mission. DOE’s operations must adapt to this changing environment to mirror the bold agenda that President Biden has set for America," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “This first-of-its-kind plan shows our commitment to being a changemaker and tackling this existential threat.” 

Climate change is already affecting DOE facilities and operations. Wildfires have caused millions of dollars of damages, power outages, and temporary shutdowns of sites at Los Alamos and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Extreme cold has damaged critical facilities at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Pantex plant in Texas. Sea level rise, storm surge and intense hurricanes are putting the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, located along the Gulf Coast, at increasing risk.  

As climate threats continue to become more extreme and more frequent, DOE is planning to take the following actions:   

  • Advance Deployment of Emerging Climate Resilient Technologies: DOE will continue leading in its mission to develop and deploy cost effective, climate resilient and carbon pollution-free energy technologies. The Department will also partner with stakeholders – local and state governments, universities, and community organizations – to ensure these technologies are made available nationwide, including for disadvantaged communities and populations.  
  • Assess Vulnerabilities and Implement Resilience Solutions at DOE Sites: By conducting site-level assessments and implementing resilience plans, DOE will take a proactive approach to climate change adaptation and enhance the climate resilience of not just DOE facilities but of neighboring communities as well.  
  • Enhance Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Co-benefits at DOE Sites: The Department plans to pursue adaptation and resilience strategies that reduce vulnerabilities to climate change, while also meeting its research, environmental management, and nuclear security missions – including prioritizing use of clean electricity, energy efficiency and achieving net-zero emissions for on-site operations that can both reduce climate risks and result in mitigation co-benefits by reducing greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change. 
  • Institutionalize Climate Adaptation and Resilience Across DOE Activities: The Department will establish a unified climate action approach to programs and operations that allow for the sharing of tools, techniques, and success stories. This includes creating formal standards and processes to ensure that climate adaptation and resilience policies  are implemented in the same manner across the board. 
  • Provide Climate Adaptation Tools, Technical Support, and Climate Science Information at DOE Sites: To improve climate readiness and building upon existing efforts, the Department will increase access to adaptation tools, technical support, and climate science materials for DOE sites, their surrounding communities, and federal agencies, as well as tribal and local governments.  

The actions outlined above, in addition to prioritizing achieving net zero emissions at the Department’s 17 national laboratories, will help identify climate vulnerabilities while developing the tools needed to respond to climate hazards. DOE will leverage the world-class research and development capabilities of its National Laboratories to institute the promising adaptation strategies and technologies that are outlined in the Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan.  

The plan echoes the Department’s priorities to increase the use of pollution-free electricity, lead the transition to a zero-emission vehicle fleet and expand clean energy options for all Americans.