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Climate Security in the 2021 U.S. National Defense Authorization Act

Rain_on_Capitol_HillBy John Conger

Both the U.S. House and Senate recently passed their versions of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, but it’s quite possible there will be a delay before a conference bill is completed.  Rather than wait for the final version, this blog will review the climate change and resilience provisions in each version.

Each of these bills is built upon a legislative foundation that’s been developed over the last three years, that involved key steps such as a declaration that climate change poses a direct threat to the national security of the United States, a requirement that the Department of Defense (DoD) prioritize its vulnerabilities and send to Congress a list of its most vulnerable installations, expansion of existing authorities to incorporate climate considerations, improvements to building codes, and a requirement for DoD to conduct resilience planning at each of its installations (plans that will be for identifying next steps for shoring up the unique vulnerabilities at each location). A summary of these provisions can be found here. (more…)

Lack of Flood Maps at Many U.S. Military Bases Creates Risks

Offutt Air Force Base_battling_flood_waters_190317-F-IT794-1053

An aerial view of Offutt Air Force Base affected by major flood waters March 17, 2019. An increase in water levels of surrounding rivers and waterways caused by record-setting snowfall over the winter in addition to a large drop in air pressure caused widespread flooding across the state of Nebraska. (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt. Rachelle Blake)

By Dr. Marc Kodack

The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) required that for any proposed major or minor U.S. military construction project within the Department of Defense (DoD), the Pentagon must disclose to Congress whether or not that project is located within the 100-year floodplain. DoD was to use the most recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood hazard data. If the FEMA data were unavailable, DoD was directed to create a process to determine the 100-year floodplain through risk analysis that conforms to standards used in federal flood risk assessments (see here). Elsewhere in the same NDAA, Congress required that climate resiliency be included in master plans for major military installations, although it did not define “major military installation.” Resiliency includes the ability of an installation to “avoid, prepare for, minimize the effect of, adapt to, and recover from extreme weather events…(Section 2805).” (more…)

U.S. Congress Continues to Address Climate Change in Defense and Intelligence Legislation

Rain_on_Capitol_Hill

By John Conger

In the final version of the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress included multiple important climate security provisions that will significantly increase Department of Defense (DoD) installations’ resilience to climate change. This continues a tradition of bipartisan cooperation on including climate change provisions in the NDAA, including during the last and current Congress (including the FY2018 NDAA, which identified climate change as a “direct threat” to national security. This year’s bill includes a number of significant steps forward, such as funding for climate resilience projects, and the creation of a Climate and Security Council within the Intelligence Community (a long-standing priority for the Center for Climate and Security). Below is a summary of the climate security provisions in the final version of the NDAA. (more…)

New Pentagon Report: “The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue”

dod climate report_01_2019By John Conger

In the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. Congress asked the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide a report on “vulnerabilities to military installations and combatant commander requirements resulting from climate change over the next 20 years.”  That report was delivered to Congress yesterday, prosaically-titled Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense.

The first sentence in the “background” section of the study is worth noting. It reaffirms that the DoD continues to take climate change seriously, as it has across four administrations, both Republican and Democrat. The sentence reads: “The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations.” (more…)

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