A battery powered load-haul-dump loader moves mined salt in the EM Waste Isolation Pilot Plant underground. Increasing the use of electric vehicles is among EM actions to support the Administration’s executive orders on climate change policy.
A battery powered load-haul-dump loader moves mined salt in the EM Waste Isolation Pilot Plant underground. Increasing the use of electric vehicles is among EM actions to support the Administration’s executive orders on climate change policy.

EM is an active participant in a DOE-wide effort to address climate change and strengthen resilience at its sites and in its operations, tribal stakeholders were told at a recent climate webinar.

Betsy Forinash, director of the EM Office of Infrastructure Management and Disposition Policy, outlined EM actions on sustainability, including its contributions to DOE’s 2021 Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan in support of the Administration’s executive orders on climate change policy.

Climate action carries broad implications for EM, Forinash said.

“This touches every part of our program,” she said. “It runs the spectrum from planning for facilities and buildings to how we do our operations to identifying remediation approaches, to disposal methods and robustness.”

“We have a real appreciation for the importance of this,” Forinash said.

EM actions will include updating climate vulnerability assessments at its sites, reducing energy usage, and increasing the use of electric vehicles in its fleets.

The webinar was hosted by DOE’s State and Tribal Government Working Group (STGWG), an advisory organization whose members host DOE facilities or are otherwise impacted by activities at DOE facilities.

Participants from STGWG decried the growing signs of climate change, such as the increasing number of fires, and a proliferation of invasive plant species that affect native foods and medicines. Several tribal representatives emphasized that using traditional tribal ecological knowledge will help DOE understand and manage the land more effectively.

“Climate resiliency is of high interest to states and tribes,” said Jill Conrad, EM tribal affairs program manager.

Forinash said DOE climate initiatives will intersect with environmental justice goals.

“There is a pretty clear link between the kinds of things we might invest in climate action and resiliency, and those environmental justice initiatives that relate to tribal interests and long-term stewardship,” Forinash said. “It is something that is going to call for the integration of a lot of different issues, a lot of different stakeholders, a lot of different modes of engagement.”