Natural Resources

Climate change is already affecting natural resources, with observed effects on the biophysical characteristics of habitats, the health and distribution of species, and the timing of critical biological events such as spring bud burst. Natural resource management decisions can also have implications for greenhouse gas emissions. The Sabin Center conducts work aimed at ensuring that decision-makers consider these effects when managing lands and resources.


Protocols and Guidelines

Considering the Effects of Climate Change on Natural Resources in Environmental Review and Planning Documents: Guidelines for Agencies and Practitioners, Jessica Wentz (September 2016)

This report describes how climate change will affect natural resources in the United States, and explains why consideration of how climate change will affect those resources is necessary in order to fulfill legal requirements under NEPA and other statutes governing the management of these resources. It also presents examples of how climate change has been meaningfully accounted for in environmental review and planning documents. The accompanying protocol contains guidelines for considering the impacts of climate change in environmental reviews as well as other planning documents (e.g., resource management plans and resource assessments).

A standalone version of the natural resource management protocol is available here.

An abridged version of the report, which was published in the March 2017 edition of the Environmental Law Reporter, is available here.

America’s Water Initiative

The Sabin Center has partnered with the Columbia Water Center and other stakeholders to research and inform water infrastructure improvements in the United States through innovative management solutions, new technologies, and new policies. Sabin Center Affiliate Adam Schempp (Director of the Environmental Law Institute’s Western Water Program) is spearheading the Center’s participation in this project, assisting the team with research on how climate change will affect water supply and demand in the decades ahead.

Engaging Government Decision-Makers on Fossil Fuel Development

The Sabin Center is actively engaging with federal regulators to encourage more comprehensive consideration of life cycle greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts in decisions involving the development of fossil fuel resources and infrastructure.

We have submitted a number of comments on the NEPA reviews for fossil fuel development actions, including:

All of our NEPA comments are available here.

Climate Attribution and the Endangered Species Act, Jessica Wentz (October 2021)

A Mitigation-Based Rationale for Incorporating a Climate Change Impacts Fee into the Federal Coal Leasing Program, Michael Burger (September 2016)

Climate Change and Human Rights, Michael Burger and Jessica Wentz (UNEP 2015)

All Natural Resources publications are available here