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The Pentagon Previews Climate Adaptation Plan in Congressional Hearing


By John Conger

On July 14, 2021, the Readiness Subcommittee of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee held a virtual hearing on the  installations and environment portfolios of the Department of Defense (DoD).  The witnesses were: Paul Cramer, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (Sustainment); Jack Surash, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (Installations, Energy and Environment); Todd Schafer, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment); and Jennifer Miller, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Energy, Installations, and Environment).  The hearing and the witness statements addressed a wide range of topics in this portfolio – to include climate resilience at DoD installations.

Note that each of these senior officials was Acting in their positions at the time of the hearing.  Each are senior civilian officials that are filling political jobs pending nomination and confirmation of political appointees in these roles.  Since this hearing, Meredith Berger has been confirmed as the Navy’s Assistant Secretary.  Rachel Jacobson is the pending nominee for the Army job.  No nominee has been announced for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) or Air Force roles.

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Climate Security: A Tale of Two Defense Hearings

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An aerial view of Offutt Air Force Base affected by major flood waters March 17, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt. Rachelle Blake)


By John Conger

Sometimes you want to hear from the very top, and sometimes you want to get into the details.  In the last couple of weeks, the U.S. Congress has done both, and each one teaches us something important about the way the Department of Defense (DoD) is planning to deal with climate change early in this Administration.

The first hearing described below included the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, covering a broad range of issues and setting the stage for the President’s budget release, which included      climate change as a priority.  The second addresses military infrastructure, which has been one of the key facets of the broader climate security portfolio within DoD.  It is the part of the climate challenge that has imposed the largest direct cost on DoD so far, and countering it also involves significant investment.  The second hearing gets into the details of this part of the portfolio.

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Congressional Hearing on Resilience Highlights Climate Change Risks

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By John Conger

On Friday, March 26, the Readiness Subcommittee of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on resilience, which in recent years has become synonymous with climate change adaptation.  It was a remarkably substantive hearing, with senior representatives of the military services (LTG Douglas Gabram, Commander Army Installations Management Command; VADM Yancey Lindsey, Commander Navy Installations Command; MajGen Edward Banta, Commander Marine Corps Installations Command; and Brig Gen John Allen, Commander Air Force Civil Engineering Center) citing progress on a variety of fronts, listing actions at specific bases, and clearly communicating the seriousness of the resilience requirement in the face of climate change and the increasing impacts of extreme weather.  It was also clear, however, that they had a very long way to go.

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U.S. Congress: Bipartisan Support for Investments in Combating Climate Change at the Department of Defense

Sherri Goodman, Chair of the Council on Strategic Risks, speaks to the House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee, March 17, 2021

By John Conger

As the Fiscal Year 2022 budget is discussed within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), a budget that will reportedly include an increased focus on dealing with the threats that climate change poses to the Defense Department, the House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee held a hearing on March 17 to consider the risks – and the costs – imposed by climate change.  The panel witnesses were Sherri Goodman, Chair of the Council on Strategic Risks, Senior Strategist and Advisory Board Member of the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) and Secretary General of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS); and Vice Admiral (ret) Dennis McGinn, Member of the CCS Advisory Board.  

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