facebook linkedin twitter

Biden Doubling Spending to Prepare for Hurricanes, Storms

May 25, 2021by Matthew Daly and Darlene Superville, Associated Press
President Joe Biden participates in a briefing on the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, at FEMA headquarters, Monday, May 24, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced Monday that he’s doubling U.S. emergency spending to help communities prepare for hurricanes and other extreme weather events, while launching a new effort at NASA to better understand and track the impact of climate change.

The $1 billion in spending is a small fraction of what the U.S. spends on weather-related disasters. Last year alone, the nation endured 22 weather and climate-related disasters with losses greater than $1 billion each. The disasters, including wildfires, hurricanes and snowstorms, had a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. 

2021 has already had significant winter storms that caused a deadly blackout in Texas and other states, and officials expect an ongoing severe drought in the West to fuel another destructive summer of wildfires following one of the worst fire years on record in 2020. Forecasters predict a busy hurricane season along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, but perhaps not as severe as 2020’s record-shattering year.

“We all know that the storms are coming, and we’re going to be prepared,” Biden said during a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Washington headquarters. “We have to be ready.” 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last week that the hurricane season, which runs from June through November, will likely see 13 to 20 named storms, including at least six that will become hurricanes and three to five categorized as major hurricanes with winds of more than 110 mph (177 kilometers per hour).

Biden, during his visit to FEMA, received a briefing on this year’s outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season. 

As climate change threatens to bring more extreme events such as increased floods, sea level rise and intensifying droughts and wildfires, the White House said it is the government’s responsibility to better prepare and support communities before disasters occur, rather than simply respond afterward.

FEMA will provide $1 billion for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, or BRIC program, which helps states, local communities, tribes and territories to develop projects to prepare for and reduce risks from disasters and natural hazards. 

“We’re going to spare no expense, no effort, to keep Americans safe and respond to crises when they arise,” Biden said. “And they certainly will.” 

The White House also said it will develop a new NASA mission concept for an Earth System Observatory that will forecast and monitor natural disasters. The Earth System Observatory will deploy advanced technology in space to improve understanding of interactions between Earth’s atmosphere, land, ocean and ice, helping determine how climate change will play out in the near and long term.

The steps announced Monday are part of Biden’s pledge to elevate climate change as a major priority. Biden has set a target to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by up to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030. He also has said he expects to adopt a clean energy standard that would make electricity carbon-free by 2035, along with the wider goal of net-zero carbon emissions economywide by 2050.

Just last week, Biden directed federal agencies to develop a comprehensive strategy to identify and manage financial risks to government and the private sector posed by climate change. An executive order he issued Thursday calls for concrete steps to mitigate climate risks and could result in new regulations on the banking, housing and agriculture sectors, among others.

At the end of his visit to FEMA, Biden addressed agency employees and thanked them for their efforts in recent months. In addition to natural disasters, FEMA is playing a central role in the federal government’s effort to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in hard-to-reach areas of the country. The agency in March was also called to help support the processing of the surge of unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the U.S. southern border.

“I’ve asked you to do an awful lot since I became president,” Biden said.

Dan Kaniewski, who served as FEMA’s deputy administrator for resilience during the Trump administration, hailed the funding announcement, which significantly expands a program begun under President Donald Trump.

“BRIC was a shot in the arm for communities throughout the country, but this will be an early second dose,” said Kaniewski, now a consultant at Marsh McLennan.

The new funding should help more communities receive needed funding to build climate resilience, he said.

___

AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report.

Climate

September 23, 2021
by Reece Nations
Louisiana Gov. Edwards Requesting Federal Aid in Wake of Severe Weather

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to request federal assistance in... Read More

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to request federal assistance in recovery efforts for portions of the state that have been devastated by natural disasters over the past year. Edwards met with Louisiana’s congressional delegation and other... Read More

EPA Completes Rule to Phase Out Gases Used as Refrigerants

WASHINGTON (AP) — In what officials call a key step to combat climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency is sharply... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — In what officials call a key step to combat climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency is sharply limiting domestic production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, highly potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners. The new rule, which follows through on a... Read More

September 22, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
OSHA Will Issue Federal Heat Standard for U.S. Workplaces 

WASHINGTON -- Extreme heat has played a role in worsening health outcomes, especially for minority communities and for construction and... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Extreme heat has played a role in worsening health outcomes, especially for minority communities and for construction and farm workers at risk of heat stroke.  In response to rising temperatures due to climate change, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is set to issue... Read More

September 15, 2021
by TWN Staff
Biden Touts Job Creation, Climate at National Renewable Energy Laboratory

GOLDEN, Colo. -- “Yes, we face a crisis, but we face a crisis with an unprecedented opportunity to create good... Read More

GOLDEN, Colo. -- “Yes, we face a crisis, but we face a crisis with an unprecedented opportunity to create good jobs of the future, to create industries of the future, to win the future, to save the planet.” That was the message President Joe Biden delivered... Read More

September 14, 2021
by Anthropocene
Insects and Fallen Trees Are a Potent Duo When It Comes to Climate Change

This article is by Warren Cornwall and was originally published by Anthropocene magazine. When tallying up the myriad things sending planet-warming gases into... Read More

This article is by Warren Cornwall and was originally published by Anthropocene magazine. When tallying up the myriad things sending planet-warming gases into the atmosphere, don’t overlook bugs. While humans drive up the overall levels of greenhouse gases by burning fossil fuels, a variety of natural forces shape how... Read More

Biden Turns to Colorado to Pitch Investments in Clean Energy

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — While legislators craft the details back in Washington, President Joe Biden is pitching his massive... Read More

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — While legislators craft the details back in Washington, President Joe Biden is pitching his massive domestic spending package with a visit to a renewable energy lab in Colorado to highlight how the investments in clean energy in his plan would help... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top