WASHINGTON, DC – Today, after the Trump Administration transmitted a required climate change risk assessment report to Congress that was supposed to be comprehensive and include a top 10 list of the most vulnerable installations from each military service, but instead sent an inadequate, incomplete, partisan document, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement:
“We know that climate change is real and impacts the way our Armed Forces carry out their missions in different parts of the globe. Former Secretary Mattis recognized and affirmed this fact. And Congress passed bipartisan legislation directing DOD to comprehensively examine the threat climate change poses to American interests and military assets and installations.
“Unfortunately, under the leadership of the Acting Secretary, the Department transmitted a report that failed to adequately answer the litany of reporting elements required by law and instead produced an alphabetical list of 79 military installations. 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. Instead, the report reads like a introductory primer and carries about as much value as a phonebook.
“President Trump’s climate change denial must not adversely impact the security environment where our troops live, work, and serve.
“But under current leadership, the Department is treating climate change as a back burner issue. Hurricane Michael and the destruction of Tyndall Air Force Base will cost the Air Force over $5 billion to rebuild. The damage from Hurricane Florence will cost the Marine Corps roughly $3.7 billion to rebuild Camp Lejeune. Three named storms in 2017 cost the Department over $1.7 billion in infrastructure repairs alone. Not only are these hurricanes not discussed in the report, the Marine Corps isn’t even mentioned. Beyond just these recent disasters, our military faces a number of other readiness impacts related to training, wildfires, flooding, and military construction.
“Whether the Trump Administration wants to admit it or not, climate change is already costing the Department significant amounts of taxpayer resources and impacting military readiness. A growing number of businesses, cities, states and nations are planning for and addressing climate change. Instead of constraining DOD efforts, the Trump Administration should direct DOD to follow suit and minimize risks.
“The Department must have a plan in place for climate change and I will take appropriate steps to ensure this happens.”
Section 335 (Report on effects of climate change on Department of Defense) of the 2018 NDAA, which Congress approved in November of 2017, included report language expressing the sense of Congress that “climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States and is impacting stability in areas of the world both where the United States Armed Forces are operating today, and where strategic implications for future conflict exist” and directed the Secretary of Defense to prepare a report identifying the military installations most vulnerable to the possible consequences of climate change, as well as mitigation measures that may be required to ensure their continued operational viability.