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Pingree’s Amendment Requiring Pentagon to Plan for Climate Crisis Included in the FY2020 Defense Authorization Bill

A recent GAO report found that military bases are not adequately prepared for sea level rise and other climate impacts

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Congressman Charlie Crist (D-Florida) have secured an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring the Secretary of Defense to account for sea level rise projections and future flood risk when creating climate resiliency guidelines at military facilities. Their amendment comes as a direct response to last month’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) climate resilience report which recommended that the armed forces better prepare for climate change impacts at military installations.

“Last month’s GAO report made it clear that rising sea levels have put unprecedented pressure on our military facilities. We must act now to prevent future catastrophes,” said Congresswoman Pingree (D-Maine). “Our amendment to the NDAA will require the Secretary of Defense to be proactive and plan for extreme weather events because if anyone should be ready for the havoc climate change will bring, it should be our armed forces.”

“Climate change is causing seas to rise, stronger storms, and greater flooding – and our military bases are not taking these threats into account when planning for the future. This amendment requires the military to harden our bases and installations to better withstand storms, flooding, and rising seas, enhancing our military readiness and better protecting our servicemembers," said Congressman Crist (D-Florida). 

The Pingree-Crist amendment requires the military to work with agencies like NOAA and NASA that track our changing climate, to incorporate flooding and sea level rise projections into their plans for building new military installations and fortifying current ones.

Of the 23 military installations GAO studied for its report, more than 30 percent did not have a plan to deal with extreme weather or climate change. The Department of Defense’s domestic real estate is worth $1.2 trillion, which, the GAO report states, poses a major economic imperative for climate readiness. The authors of the GAO report wrote, “there is substantial budgetary risk resulting from weather effects associated with climate change, and these types of repairs are neither budgeted for nor clearly represented in the federal budget process.” In January, the Department of Defense submitted a report to Congress which named climate change as a major national security issue that will affect installations as well as military operations and missions. 

The amendment has been supported by the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, Environment America, Environmental Defense Fund, Interfaith Power & Light, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The House expected to vote on the full FY2020 NDAA tomorrow.


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