Sen. Tom Carper sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Sept. 8, urging him to support recently revoked or suppressed initiatives designed to help communities prepare for the growing threats posed by extreme weather events and climate change.
Since taking office, Trump has revoked Barack Obama-era executive orders promoting extreme weather resiliency and focused efforts on questioning climate science versus planning for the impacts of our changing climate.
“While our country debates how to address climate change, rising sea levels and extreme weather events are no longer a matter of debate, becoming the new norm and placing extreme burdens on the American people and economy,” Carper wrote. “As seen most recently with Hurricane Harvey, the impacts of extreme weather events are devastating, resulting in lives lost and imposing long-term economic costs.”
The costs for communities to recover and rebuild from these events are adding up: For Hurricane Harvey alone, the governor of Texas estimates a cost of up to $180 billion, which is more than the GDPs of Delaware, Maine and South Dakota combined, and more than the budget for the U.S. Navy. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reported that since 1980, the costs of extreme weather events in the U.S. has exceeded $1.2 trillion, and such events costing $1 billion or more have doubled (on average) in frequency over the past decade. For these reasons and more, the Government Accountability Office has listed climate change as one of the top fiscal risks facing the country.
“With a little extra planning — combined with prudent, targeted investments — the federal government can help save lives, livelihoods and taxpayer dollars. These are a few examples of actions the federal government can take today to make our communities safer for tomorrow. The recent events in Houston and the impending impacts from Hurricane Irma are reminders that our country can no longer delay. We must better prepare our communities, making them more resilient in the face of a new climate reality. I stand ready to work with you and your Administration to address these issues,” Carper wrote.
Specifically, Carper urged President Trump to:
— Reinstate and fund agency actions on climate preparedness and resiliency, which provided tools for American communities to “strengthen their resilience to extreme weather and prepare for other impacts of climate change,” including provisions to help communities hit by extreme weather events to rebuild smarter and stronger to withstand future events.
— Reinstate the Federal flood risk management standard, which provided a flexible framework to establish a new flood risk management standard for federally funded projects.
— Release the Fourth National Climate Assessment and Extend the Charter for the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, which helps communities understand and plan for the near-term and future risks of climate change.
— Hold a red team/blue team exercise on climate preparedness, not on climate science, to assess the nation’s structural vulnerabilities to the expected impacts of climate change.
The text of the letter is available at bit.ly/2eQRiC8.