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Environment

Climate Change Poses Risks To Energy Infrastructure

by Jeff Johnson
March 10, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 10

The energy supply chain and energy infrastructure will increasingly and more severely be threatened by climate change, notes a report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, a federal coordinating body, provided the information on which the report is based. The report predicts that unusual weather events as well as long-term climate change will damage oil and gas onshore and offshore extraction and refining operations, fuel pipelines and storage tanks, electricity-generating power plants, and electricity transportation and distribution systems. GAO sees two options for protection: hardening and resiliency. Hardening includes making physical changes to protect energy infrastructure systems, and resiliency requires backup systems to temporarily replace damaged infrastructures. Most threatened energy systems are not under the control of the federal government, the report notes, urging that federal agencies aid or require private entities to take adaptive action.

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