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Federal Report to Warn Climate Change Is Already Hurting Americans

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The White House plans to release a major report Tuesday outlining how human-driven climate change is already affecting the environment in the United States and warning of more warming to come, possibly signaling a more aggressive response to the issue from the Obama administration.  

The government's report is expected to be the most comprehensive review of climate impacts in the U.S. in over a decade.

An official draft copy of the report, known as theThird National Climate Assessment, argues that climate change is resulting in substantial financial, public health, and ecological costs, from increasingly severe weather to disruption of infrastructure. The report points to droughts in the West and flood-based damage to roads in the East.

It is a "significantly more ambitious effort than previous assessments" in terms of scope and the extent to which the public was engaged, according to the National Resource Council's review of a draft copy of the report.

The last National Climate Assessment was released in 2009.

Many steps are being taken to curb emissions and mitigate impacts of climate change, but the draft of the new report warns that those actions have been insufficient, particularly at the local level.

For example, coastal communities haven't done enough to protect shorelines from rising seas, while many areas in the Southeast and Southwest aren't well prepared for water shortages, the report says.

The assessment shows that "Washington needs to play catch-up to where people are already, because they are already feeling climate-related changes in their own lives," says the Environmental Defense Fund's Eric Pooley.

Pooley, a senior vice president at the New York-based group, said President Obama has been following through on a Climate Action Plan he unveiled last June. The plan aims to set new rules on carbon emissions for new and existing power plants and address methane emissions from the gas industry.    
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