Sens. Murkowski and Coons Introduce Landmark Bipartisan Climate Resilience Legislation
Lawmakers seek to build a federal strategy to increase resiliency and protect Americans from natural disasters
Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), and U.S. Representatives Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and María Salazar (R-Fla.) introduced the National Coordination on Adaptation and Resilience for Security Act (NCARS) to streamline the federal response to climate hazards that threaten human health and well-being, critical infrastructure, and natural environments.
Increasingly severe weather events are a stark reminder that Alaska, which has more coastline than the entire Lower 48 combined, is at increasing risk from climate change, particularly coastal erosion. Last year, total natural disaster damages in the U.S. reached $165 billion, and they are increasing every year. According to FEMA, each dollar invested in resilience saves roughly $6 when disaster strikes. Vulnerable populations also face increasing harm from slow-onset climate hazards like coastal erosion, sea level rise, and permafrost thaw, which are often overlooked in comparison to punctuated disaster events but can also have a significant impact on human health as well as property and critical infrastructure.
“Alaskan communities are facing an increasing number of damaging weather events bringing flooding, coastal erosion, severe winter storms, permafrost melt, and wildfires. Just this past year, communities across our state were impacted by several natural disasters that caused great damage to our infrastructure and put Alaskans lives at risk,” said Senator Murkowski. “I’m glad to be working once again with my colleague Senator Coons on bipartisan legislation to appoint a Chief Resilience Officer to develop and implement a unified National Adaptation and Resilience Strategy, with the input of partners across sectors and localities. A single clear and coordinated federal approach to disaster preparedness and climate resilience is the right thing to do for communities in Alaska and across the country.”
“A coordinated government strategy for resilience is critical to help vulnerable communities that face increasing risk from hurricanes, floods, winter storms, and other weather events,” said Senator Coons. “Having a Chief Resilience Officer in the White House, advised by a non-federal Partners Council, will improve accountability and fiscal responsibility in disaster preparedness, following the model of nearly a dozen states, including Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Resilience is critical not only for Delaware, but for Americans in frontline communities across the nation.”
“Alaska is experiencing climate change at twice the rate of the planet and the Arctic is warming at four times the rate. That means than our communities are experiencing disproportionate impacts from coastal erosion to loss of traditional subsistence foods,” said Ivy Spohnholz, Alaska State Director of The Nature Conservancy. “This legislation would create the position of a Chief Resilience Officer who would lead the creation of a National Adaptation and Resilience Strategy. Thank you to Senators Murkowski and Coons, and Representatives Peters and Salazar for introducing a bipartisan, practical proposal.”
The National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy Act would:
- Set a National Adaptation and Resilience Strategy and an Implementation Plan with federal, state, local, private sector, and non-profit partners.
- Establish a Chief Resilience Officer in the White House to implement the plan.
- Create interagency working groups to streamline efforts and ensure accountability.
- Create a federal information hub to streamline resilience resources to communities.
Additional cosponsors include Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).