Making Our Communities More Resilient to Climate Change

Flooding in a community as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Photo courtesy of U.S. EPA.

As a member of the EPA community leading efforts to prevent the release of hazardous substances and respond to emergencies, I know it is important to quickly assess impacts, help with recovery and cleanup, while also preparing for future events. My office, the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER), helps to address these issues specifically by cleaning up contaminated land, managing hazardous and non-hazardous waste, and responding to emergencies.

Many of these responsibilities may potentially be impacted by climate change. States, tribes and communities across the country are already developing and implementing measures to adapt to climate change. It is crucial that EPA help support and strengthen these efforts to prepare for increased frequency and severity of emergencies.

During the past year, my office, the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) developed a Climate Change Implementation Plan to identify actions that we can take to help prepare for climate change impacts and protect communities. For example, OSWER is proposing that we consider the impact of increased flooding at contaminated sites where accidents, spills or leaks have left hazardous materials or waste on the land. We also plan to evaluate how best to manage the massive amounts of debris generated after storms. Every group within OSWER, as well as our regional partners, has proposed actions that will help integrate climate change adaptation into how we do our work every day. [See the implementation plans for all EPA offices and regions here].

I recognize that state, tribal and local communities, as well as the broader community, possess great awareness, expertise and experience in understanding the consequences of our changing climate and finding a path forward toward resiliency.  I look forward to learning from you and getting your input to strengthen our Climate Change Adaptation Plan.

The comment period on OSWER’s draft Climate Change Implementation Plan closes January 3, 2014. For more information on OSWER’s Climate Change Implementation Plan visit:

Mathy Stanislaus is the Assistant Administrator in EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER), leading the Agency’s land cleanup, solid waste and emergency response programs. Mr. Stanislaus is a chemical engineer and environmental lawyer with over 20 years of experience in the environmental field in the private and public sectors. He received his law degree from Chicago Kent Law School and Chemical Engineering Degree from City College of New York.