Reps. Peters And Salazar, Sens. Coons And Murkowski Reintroduce Landmark Bipartisan Climate Resilience Legislation
November 8, 2023
WASHINGTON – Representatives Scott Peters (D-CA-50) and María Salazar (R-FL-27) and Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the National Coordination on Adaptation and Resilience for Security Act (NCARS) today to streamline the federal response to climate hazards that threaten human health and well-being, critical infrastructure, and natural environments.
Increasingly severe weather events are a stark reminder that frontline communities like San Diego are at increasing risk from climate change. Last year, total natural disaster damages in the U.S. reached $165 billion, compared to just $28.6 billion during Rep. Peters’ first year in Congress in 2013. According to FEMA, each dollar invested in resilience saves roughly $6 when disaster strikes. Vulnerable populations also face increasing harm from slow-onset climate hazards like sea level rise and permafrost thaw, which are often overlooked in comparison to punctuated disaster events but can also have a significant impact on human health as well as property and critical infrastructure.
“As we work to aggressively combat the climate crisis, we must also prepare our communities for the unavoidable devastation of climate change. In San Diego, this includes more frequent and intense wildfires, drought, heat waves, and rising sea levels that endanger the health, safety, and livelihoods of people in my district,” said Congressman Peters. “A robust national strategy led by a Chief Resilience Officer, instead of a patchwork of disparate efforts, will be essential for an effective response to the increasingly dangerous climate hazards our communities face.”
“Miami communities are at risk and are ground-zero for rising waters,” said Congresswoman Salazar. “We must come together to protect Florida families and improve disaster planning. I’m proud to lead the National Coordination on Adaptation and Resilience for Security (NCARS) Act to ensure we build stronger infrastructure and keep our communities safe.”
“A coordinated government strategy for resilience is critical to help vulnerable communities that face increasing risk from hurricanes, floods, winter storms, and other weather events,” said Senator Coons, co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus. “Having a Chief Resilience Officer in the White House, advised by a non-federal Partners Council, will improve accountability and fiscal responsibility in disaster preparedness, following the model of nearly a dozen states, including Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Resilience is critical not only for Delaware, but for Americans in frontline communities across the nation.”
“Alaskan communities are facing an increasing number of damaging weather events bringing flooding, coastal erosion, severe winter storms, permafrost melt, and wildfires. Just this past year, communities across our state were impacted by several natural disasters that caused great damage to our infrastructure and put Alaskans’ lives at risk,” said Senator Murkowski. “I’m glad to be working once again with my colleague Senator Coons on bipartisan legislation to appoint a Chief Resilience Officer to develop and implement a unified National Adaptation and Resilience Strategy, with the input of partners across sectors and localities. A single clear and coordinated federal approach to disaster preparedness and climate resilience is the right thing to do for communities in Alaska and across the country.”
“This summer gave a brief glimpse into the sort of weather disasters that we can expect when planetary warming crosses 1.5C around 2030,” said Dr. Veerabharan (Ram) Ramanathan, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Climate Sustainability at Scripps Institution of Oceanography & Climate Solutions Scholar, Cornell University. “We urgently need to help people, especially the vulnerable, cope with and adapt to unavoidable climate/weather extremes during the coming few decades. We have to bend the curve and bounce back climate resilient. The NCARS act, which calls for a coordinated effort from the local to the national level for resilience, is exactly what we need.”
The National Coordination on Adaptation and Resilience for Security Act would:
- Set a National Adaptation and Resilience Strategy and an Implementation Plan with federal, state, local, private sector, and non-profit partners.
- Establish a Chief Resilience Officer in the White House to implement the plan.
- Create interagency working groups to streamline efforts and ensure accountability.
- Create a federal information hub to streamline resilience resources to communities.
Original cosponsors include Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE-At Large) and John Curtis (R-UT-3) and Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
The bill is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Taxpayers for Common Sense, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Team Rubicon, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Center for Climate & Security at The Council on Strategic Risks, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, SmarterSafer Coalition, American Flood Coalition Action, and American Society of Adaptation Professionals.