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MAP: How Climate Change Threatens America’s Energy Infrastructure in Every Region

October 9, 2015 - 10:28am


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We live in a rapidly changing world. The effects of climate change -- such as heat waves, rising sea levels and more severe storms -- are already being felt across the United States. Our energy infrastructure is especially vulnerable to climate-related impacts, which can pose a serious threat to America’s prosperity, national security, energy security and quality of life.

Today, the Energy Department released a report that highlights threats to our energy sector in nine geographic regions, each with its own unique challenges and solutions.

Speaking today with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in L.A., Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz spoke of the challenges ahead and the Energy Department's role in maintaining our energy system's resilience, reliability and safety.

“In recent years, record temperatures, droughts, and floods have damaged energy infrastructure and disrupted energy systems, affecting American families and businesses across the country,” said Secretary Moniz. “To address the harsh impacts of climate change and extreme weather, we need innovative solutions that will make our energy sector more resilient, more flexible, and more efficient, as we build a cleaner, more climate-friendly energy system.”

Secretary Moniz joined Mayor Garcetti at an L.A. fire station that will soon be equipped with a new solar and battery storage backup energy system. As the report points out, areas with a growing risk of wildfire like Southern California are in dire need of backup energy storage capabilities, as fires often threaten power lines.

But not all areas of our country face the same threats from climate change. By breaking them down region-by-region, this report identifies the most vulnerable spots in our energy infrastructure according to the climate-related impacts they are likely to face.

Some key examples from the report include:

  • Disruptions to oil and gas operations in the Southeast, Southern Great Plains and Alaska caused by more intense, frequent storms, hurricanes and higher temperatures.
  • Reduced hydropower from changes in snowpack and melting patterns in the West.
  • Disruption of fuel transportation in every region due to impacts like increasing heavy precipitation, heat waves, drought, hurricanes and storm surge.
  • Increasing electricity demand due to higher temperatures in nearly every region.
  • Electric grid impacts across the U.S. caused by a variety of sources, from heavy rainfall to wildfires.

The Energy Department is addressing these challenges head on. We're providing technical information and assistance, and actively pursuing partnerships with states, communities and the private sector to accelerate investment in a more reliable and resilient energy system.

Explore the regional threats to the U.S. energy sector and examples of resilient solutions by clicking on each shaded area in the map above, or dig into the full report including examples of resilience solutions.