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Nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works on Climate Change


Lock and Dam 22, Mississippi River, Hannibal, Missouri, US Army Corps of Engineers

On Thursday, November 9 the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) considered the nomination of R.D. James to be Assistant Secretary Of The Army for Civil Works. During the testimony, in an exchange with Senator Tim Kaine, Mr. James affirmed the practical approach to climate change taken by Secretary of Defense James Mattis in his own statements to the SASC (namely, that we have to prepared for it). Excerpt below:

Senator Kaine: Secretary Mattis stated to the Committee, “where climate change contributes to regional instability, the Department of Defense must be aware of any potential adverse impacts,” “climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” and “the Department should be prepared to mitigate any consequences of a changing climate, including ensuring that our shipyards and installations will continue to function as required.” The report accompanying the Committee-passed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 directs the Department to conduct a comprehensive threat assessment and implementation master plan on the risks and vulnerabilities to Department missions and infrastructure associated with climate-related events. Do you share Secretary Mattis’ views on climate change?

R.D. James: Yes. As an engineer and after years as a member of the Mississippi River Commission, working with multiple Civil Works water resource projects designed to perform under extreme climatic conditions, I believe it is critical that we look at hydrologic data, analyze hydrologic trends, and understand what is happening on the ground at Army Civil Works projects. That kind of understanding is crucial to assuring those projects continue to perform as designed and that they are sufficiently resilient to face whatever future climatic events may occur.

Senator Kaine: Do you agree that the Department should be prepared to mitigate any consequences of a changing climate?

R.D. James: Because most Army Civil Works projects are specifically designed to safely perform and reduce risk under the extremes of the hydrologic cycle, from extreme floods to prolonged drought and everywhere in between, I believe we owe it to the communities, industries and economic sectors that depend on Civil Works systems to assure those systems are sufficiently resilient in order to dependably perform regardless of what future climatic conditions are presented.

To listen to the full hearing, click here. Begins at 49:07.


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