By John Conger
As reported by The Military Times, a bipartisan group of 40 lawmakers recently wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Mattis reinforcing Congressional intent when it comes to reporting on climate change: namely that when Congress asks for a report on climate change, they intend for it to at least mention the term.
Their concern was stoked by a recent Washington Post report that alleged the Administration had stripped a number of references to climate change out of a report (dubbed SLVAS) detailing the impacts of climate on DoD installations worldwide. The final SLVAS report, though it only includes one reference to climate change (page 9), indicated that more than half of DoD bases had seen increases in adverse weather impacts.
The Members of Congress state:
“While we appreciate the need to update reports when it is appropriate and necessary, we are disturbed that the revisions may have intentionally targeted mentions of climate change. The facts are clear: climate change poses a threat to the Department and the nation.”
“Congress recognized those facts on a bipartisan basis in the Fiscal Year 2018 Defense Authorization Act, which expressed the sense of Congress that climate change is a direct threat to national security. Furthermore, the Congressionally mandated report requires each Service within the Department to assess the top ten military installations likely to be affected by climate change over the next 20 years and specific mitigations that may be necessary to ensure the continued operational viability and resiliency of the identified installations. The provision also instructs combatant commanders to incorporate the effects of a changing climate into their strategic plans.
“This language was supported in both the House Armed Services Committee and during a roll call vote on the Floor of the House. We expect that when this report is delivered to Congress later this year, it will contain candid assessments in line with the clear instructions passed by Congress and signed into law by the President.”
In other words, we said what we meant, and we meant what we said…when we ask for a report on climate change, it had better address climate change.