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A Bipartisan Letter from Congress on Climate Change and National Security

U.s._capitolLed by Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Jim Langevin (D-RI), a bipartisan group of 106 lawmakers released an extraordinary letter last week urging the President of the United States to reconsider omission of climate change as a security threat in its National Security Strategy, citing the words of sitting Secretary of Defense James Mattis to underline the issue’s importance.

Following on the heels of passage of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act last December (since signed into law by the President), during which a bipartisan majority in the House and Senate successfully supported and defended a provision declaring climate change a “direct threat to the national security of the United States,” the letter demonstrates that a U.S. consensus on climate and security is significant and growing.

Further, the depth of concern among lawmakers is reflected in the timing of its release. The National Security Strategy has already been published, and it is unusual for lawmakers to make such a request post-facto.

While it is unlikely that the White House will revise the strategy, it is worth noting that climate change is not entirely missing from its pages, which could provide an opening for further discussion between Congress and the President. Though the security implications are not referenced, a brief line on the bottom of page 22 states:

The United States will remain a global leader in reducing traditional pollution, as well as greenhouse gases, while growing its economy.

That’s something.


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