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Army Corps Chief: We Will Continue to Consider Climate Change Unless Ordered Not To

RD James 2020By Marc Kodack

On 9 January, the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, held a hearing to discuss the 2020 Water Resources Development Act. There were two witnesses: The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, HON R.D. James, and the Chief of Engineers of the United States Army and the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lieutenant General Todd Semonite. During the hearing, Assistant Secretary James noted that the Army Corps of Engineers would continue to consider the science of climate change unless explicitly ordered not to. See below for the full exchange on climate change between the Subcommittee Chairwoman, Representative Grace Napolitano, and Assistant Secretary James.

Representative Grace Napolitano (20:54)

In many parts of our country we are experiencing more extreme weather events. The Midwest flood last year and, in previous years the West have been in extreme drought. How will the president’s proposal to eliminate the consideration of climate change in infrastructure project development affect the Corps’ planning process? And, that there was a news article, Al Roker was showing, I don’t know if anybody saw it, but different catastrophes throughout the United States and the billions of dollars it is costing. So, what do we do with that?

HON R.D. James, ASA (CW) (21:29)

Ma’am we’re still learning I think along with many other things that we have to engineer in our country. We do engineer our projects and try to protect people based on the science of what the climate is doing. As I say, we’re still learning and I think that’s because the scientific community is still learning. I had a discussion with NOAA, I guess maybe a month ago now, and they were trying to explain to me how their improving their scientific forecast, their analysis of climate change. And, we use a lot of their data and expertise in what we do as far as the climate change and the scientific based of weather.

Representative Grace Napolitano (22:19)

Well the President’s proposal to eliminate the consideration of climate change how will that affect the Corps’ work?

HON R.D. James, ASA(CW) (22:27)

I’m sorry, ma’am.

Representative Grace Napolitano (22:28)

The President proposal to eliminate the consideration of climate change in infrastructure project development. How will it effect of Corps’ planning process?

HON R.D. James, ASA(CW) (22:40)

I’m not sure how to answer that because regardless, unless ordered not to do so, we will continue to follow the science and address and build the projects for this country the way we have been doing it, it is based on.


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