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White House Council Chair to Visit Area, Discuss Climate Change


A special guest will tour sites in the Skagit River Valley today. Nancy Sutley, the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality will be in Mount Vernon to discuss the impacts of climate change on communities in Washington state.

Sutley has been touring the country to talk about the climate action plan President Barack Obama unveiled in June.

In Mount Vernon, she’ll be hosted by Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., who says the emphasis in the Skagit Valley is on increased flooding due to climate change. The area has recently seen at least four major flood events in less than a decade.

“And as we have seen increased flooding, it’s a top-of-mind important issue and an opportunity for us to understand what she’s doing on these issues, and for her to get feedback from our community on how we’re approaching it,” DelBene said.

Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau is eager to talk about one such example: the city is building a 2-mile waterfront flood protection wall. The mayor says once completed, it will shield the historic downtown and remove the need for flood insurance while also enhancing public space.

“It creates not only our floodwall, which is certified protection, but it involves a 24-foot-wide promenade in a significant part of the section. So it’s really a public amenity; waterfront re-development as well as the flood protection,” Boudreau said.

Also included on Sutley’s itinerary are two wetland restoration projects in the Skagit River Delta that have received federal funds. She’ll also visit the Taylor Shellfish Farm in Bow to learn about the effects of ocean acidification on aquaculture.

The Nature Conservancy of Washington is one of the environmental groups taking part in the discussions. The group’s government relations director Mo McBroom says she hopes this visit will lead to more federal support for adapting to climate change.  

“There is such ripe opportunity in this region for it to be a demonstration ground, to pilot really innovative efforts to promote resiliency, and to bring back habitat. This is a great place for them to be focusing on right now and a great place for federal investments,” McBroom said.   

Other communities Sutley has recently visited include Providence, Rhode Island; Hartford, Connecticut; and Hampton, New Hampshire.

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