Reps. Peters, Salazar, Sens. Coons, Murkowski unveil landmark bipartisan legislation to protect communities during extreme weather
January 19, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representatives Scott Peters (D-CA-52) and María Salazar (R-FL-27) and U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy Act (NCARS), a bipartisan, bicameral bill to streamline the federal response to climate hazards that threaten human health, safety and critical infrastructure. This legislation kick starts another year of climate leadership from Rep. Peters after delivering several victories in 2021, including the enactment of his POWER ON Act through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the restoration of robust regulations on methane pollution through a special resolution he co-introduced.
“As we work to aggressively combat the climate crisis, we must also prepare our communities for unavoidable climate impacts. In San Diego, this includes more frequent and intense wildfires, drought, heat waves, and rising sea levels that will endanger the health, safety, and livelihoods of people in my district,” said Rep. Peters. “The National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy Act will enhance the federal government's climate resilience efforts, especially its ability to help ensure communities are protected against more extreme weather events. Having a robust national strategy will be essential as we face the increasingly dangerous climate hazards of the future.”
Increasingly severe weather caused by climate change has required greater investments for communities to keep up and rebuild. In 2021 alone, damages from extreme weather in the U.S. exceeded $145 billion, compared to just $28.6 billion during Rep. Peters’ first year in Congress in 2013. And while major weather disasters are costly and grab headlines, San Diego and other coastal communities also face future displacement and economic disruption from the overlooked threat of sea level rise. According to a 2019 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, experts estimated that if greenhouse gas emissions remain at high rates, we can expect between one to three feet of global sea level rise by 2100. Minor increases of even an inch in sea level are cause for concern for coastal communities because higher seas mean more water and flooding during high tides, hurricanes and storms.
“Climate change is a real threat to South Florida, and Miami is ground zero for sea-level rise,” said Rep. Salazar. “I am proud to co-lead the bipartisan National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy Act, which will implement a much-needed strategy to build our resilience against hurricane damage, storm surges, and flooding, while protecting Florida’s most vulnerable crown jewels like the Everglades. This bill will make communities across America much safer when natural disasters strike, allowing Florida to protect both its citizens and its environment.”
“It’s not enough to just combat further impacts of climate change; unfortunately, we also must face up to the consequences that man-made climate change has already caused,” said Sen. Coons. “This bill sets out commonsense first steps so that the federal government can deliver sustainable, resilient, and equitable climate solutions in Delaware, our country’s lowest lying state, as well as for Americans in frontline communities across the nation.”
“Alaska communities and infrastructure are already being impacted by the impacts of climate change. Individual federal agencies have developed services and programs to help adapt to these hazards, but the current structure has made it challenging for communities to identify and successfully request assistance,” said Sen. Murkowski. “Our bipartisan legislation would direct the President to appoint a Chief Resilience Officer, who would oversee the development of a unified strategy for climate adaptation and resilience. The strategy would include recommendations to address outstanding gaps in federal resilience operations, streamline redundant efforts across agencies, and improve communication with vulnerable communities. This will be a positive step in optimizing the federal government’s ability to support adaptation efforts in Alaska and across the country.”
Additional co-leads include Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and John Curtis (R-UT-03), as well as Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.).
“Utahns are deeply concerned about the number of bad air quality days caused by fire in our state last year,” said Rep. Curtis. “I am proud to be working with a bipartisan group of my colleagues, in both the House and Senate, to develop a strategy that consolidates all federal efforts to enhance our state’s resiliency.”
“As our country continues to battle the existential threat of climate change, one of the most important and impactful weapons in our arsenal is climate adaption and resiliency,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “That’s why it only makes sense that the federal government develops a national adaptation and resilience strategy. I’m proud to join with all of my colleagues on this bill to ensure that we have a whole-of-government strategy in place to help address climate change and protect our coastal and low-lying communities like those in Delaware.”
“Climate change has serious implications for Maine’s economy as well as the livelihoods of people across my state, including fishermen, farmers, and those employed in the forest products industry,” said Sen. Collins. “As communities deal with the escalating costs of climate change, it is more important than ever that we create a robust national plan to improve resiliency to help those on the frontlines. By creating a whole-of-government approach, this bipartisan legislation will help shape federal policy based on what is known about climate risks and strengthen our nation’s commitment to tackling the consequences of this growing threat.”
“With Nevada already experiencing extreme heat, increasing drought and wildfires, and poor air quality, the urgency for us to work together to mitigate the climate crisis is only growing,” said Sen. Rosen. “This bipartisan legislation will strengthen the resilience of communities most impacted by climate change through a comprehensive national strategy and better collaboration to address gaps in these efforts.”
“Louisiana loses a football field of land every hour due to coastal erosion and is under the greatest threat from sea level rise,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Creating a national strategy to rebuild coastlines, combat climate challenges, and support American energy will benefit our state and benefit the country.”
The National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy Act would:
- Require the development of a whole-of-government National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy, which would ensure a unified vision for the U.S. government’s response to climate hazards and direct the swift implementation of equitable climate resilience solutions across federal agencies;
- Authorize a Chief Resilience Officer in the White House to direct national resilience efforts and lead the development of the U.S. Resilience Strategy; and
- Authorize interagency resilience Working Groups and a non-federal Partners Council with representatives from frontline communities to strengthen strategic development and facilitate communication between federal agencies and state, local, tribal, and territorial governments.
Click here for quotes of support from the following organizations: American Society of Adaptation Professionals, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy: Delaware and Pennsylvania Chapter, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center at the Atlantic Council, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, American Conservation Coalition, American Flood Coalition Action, and C2ES.
A one-pager on the bill can be found here. Bill text is available here.