WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama's administration announced plans Monday for a new office handling climate change, aiming to help businesses chart future plans as the nation shifts to a greener economy.
The first practical effect was the creation of a website, www.climate.gov, which came online Monday and brings together government resources on climate change for business, scholars and the general public.
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said that the new Climate Service would help businesses on subjects such as wind power by providing data on wind patterns which they would need to expand.
"The bottom line is this -- the better climate information that alternative energy companies have, the more profitable they can be, the more jobs they can create and the more they can actually meet the energy demands of our country and indeed the world," he told reporters.
Locke compared the initiative to the National Weather Service, which he said had spurred a private industry of forecasters who benefit from the government data.
The Climate Service would bring together resources now spread throughout the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency that falls under the Commerce Department. It will also have six regional offices across the country.
Locke said he expected that the Climate Service would be running before the start of the 2011 fiscal year. He said the administration would first consult with Congress, although he did not believe any new legislation was needed.
The Climate Service marks the latest effort by the Obama administration to act on climate change despite an uncertain political terrain.
The House of Representatives last year approved a landmark plan to impose the first US nationwide caps on emissions of carbon dioxide, which scientists say is causing a dangerous heating of the planet.
But the legislation is stalled in the Senate, where Obama's Democratic Party last month lost a seat to a critic of the climate bill.