The Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, made stops in the Capital Region Friday to discuss climate change.
EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck visited Saratoga Springs, to speak at a conference of the Northeast Organic Farmers Association. The topic of her discussion focused on the reality of climate change.
“We know that just recently, 2012, was the hottest year on record. We know that sea level is rising, in New York harbor the sea level has gone up a full foot in the last century, all of that is directly linked to Climate Change and 99 percent of scientists validate that,” said Enck.
Enck took opportunity to answer questions about President Obama’s climate action plan, which was revealed last June.
“It’s a pretty aggressive plan,” said Enck. “It directs the EPA to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants. It also urges all federal agencies to work with communities on the issue of resiliency – also known as adaptation.”
Enck praised New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for drawing attention to adapting to climate change. Earlier this month, Cuomo was joined by Vice President Joe Biden in Albany to unveil an infrastructure improvement plan to “rebuild better” to stand against more powerful storms like the devastating Superstorm Sandy.
“Climate change is here, now, we can’t ignore it. So we need to build smarter, and build greener, and make sure that our people are protected from intense storms like Irene and Sandy,” said Enck.
Enck also fielded tough questions from the audience on environmental issues from mountaintop removal, concerns related to biomass emissions, and what the EPA is doing to regulate drilling for natural gas.
Tracy Frisch is a homesteader and community activist from Argyle.
“The question of how hydrofracking, which I think is the biggest new environmental threat that we face. But that is the biggest environmentally on the horizon as New Yorkers.”
Asked if she believes the EPA and the federal government as a whole can fully protect citizens from environmental dangers related to hydrofracking, Frisch said, “absolutely not.”
Rich Vergili, a professor at the Culinary Institute of America, asked whether it’s possible for elected officials in Washington to make the real changes to fight climate change without losing public support.
“How can they make and create policy that doesn’t become to contentious? Even though the science may show something different than the political spectrum," said Vergili.
Enck said that concerned Americans expect a lot from the EPA.
“And they expect not only the EPA but all federal and state environmental agency to do more,” said Enck. “I think that there’s an awareness that we have a lot of catch-up to do on the climate change issue in particular. The nice thing is that people are paying attention.”
Enck also spoke at Union College in Schenectady Friday.
Details of President Obama's climate action plan can be found here: