So Greenland’s ice sheets are apparently melting at an alarming rate compared to previous centuries. Buzz60
WASHINGTON – Key Democratic lawmakers say the Trump administration is putting U.S. armed forces at greater risk by not properly acknowledging and preparing for the effects of climate change.
A law Congress passed in 2017 reauthorizing Department of Defense programs requires that the Pentagon spell out how rising sea levels, intensifying wildfires and other risks posed by a warming planet threaten military installations.
The law also requires a list of the top 10 most vulnerable installations within each service and a detailed explanation on mitigation costs, contingency plans and "the frequency of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions."
But top Democrats slammed the 22-page report Defense officials sent to lawmakers Thursday as inadequate and "half baked" while demanding the Pentagon issue a more thorough version.
Widespread destruction is left behind in the wake of Hurricane Michael at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Florida, on Oct. 13, 2018. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network)
The report lists 79 installations and whether they face current and potential (within the next 20 years) effects of climate change such as flooding and desertification, but it does not prioritize them by risk or offer further details on all but a handful of installations.
Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the report treats climate change "as a back burner issue."
"While those 79 installations are no doubt important for mission assurance, without any prioritization for resources and installation-specific resilience plans, the report is incomplete," he said in a statement Friday. "Instead, the report reads like a introductory primer and carries about as much value as a phone book."
The criticism over the report is the latest attempt by Democrats to make climate change a central issue of their legislative agenda.
Downed trees are seen from the air over Tyndall Air Force Base in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael near Mexico Beach, Florida, on Oct. 12, 2018. (Photo: Gerald Herbert, AP)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has revived a special panel on climate change, and Senate Democrats grilled EPA Nominee Andrew Wheeler about Trump administration rollbacks during Wednesday's confirmation hearing.
Party leaders say climate change will be a central debate in the 2020 campaign when President Trump, who has called global warming a "hoax" invented by the Chinese, is up for a second term.
Pentagon spokeswoman Heather Babb called the report "a high-level assessment of the vulnerability of DOD installations (and) provides an overview of efforts to increase installation resiliency."
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Babb also described the effects of a changing climate as "a national security issue with potential impacts to DOD missions, operational plans and installations. DOD must be able to adapt current and future operations to address the impacts of a wide variety of threats and conditions, to include those from weather, climate and natural events."
But Democrats faulted the report for not even mentioning two installations hit last year by massive hurricanes: Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, which sustained more than $5 billion in losses from Hurricane Michael; and Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, which will cost the Marine Corps roughly $3.7 billion to rebuild after Hurricane Florence.
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, called the report "half baked."
The report "demonstrates a continued unwillingness to seriously recognize and address the threat that climate change poses to our national security and military readiness," he said Friday. "It fails to even minimally discuss a mitigation plan to address the vulnerabilities."
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