Floods, wildfires, droughts, and other natural disasters are having a devastating impact throughout the United States. To better protect our communities and infrastructure from these increasingly frequent and destructive events, the U.S. needs a coordinated strategy—and we could have one soon, if Congress passes the bipartisan National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy Act (NCARS), S. 3531/H.R. 6461. Here are the top three reasons why lawmakers should do so as soon as possible:
1. Extreme events are wreaking havoc on the lives and livelihoods of Americans nationwide.
Since 2000, disasters have cost the country more than $1.5 trillion in damage and economic losses. Wildfires have raged in the West throughout this year, and more than half of the country experienced drought conditions during the spring. Since June, floods have devastated communities in Texas, Missouri, California, Illinois, and Kentucky.
2. To effectively address our resilience challenges, the country needs a national strategy and a leader to oversee and manage its implementation.
A growing number of states—including Florida, Louisiana, West Virginia, and Wyoming—have chief resilience officers that lead resilience planning and projects, but there’s no federal counterpart. The bill would establish a chief resilience officer in the White House who would be tasked with developing a coordinated resilience strategy throughout all levels of government. With an unprecedented amount of federal funding available for resilient projects and planning, unified approaches to disaster preparedness will help ensure that these investments can withstand today’s storms and the future’s more severe weather.
3. The bill is supported by hundreds of elected officials, businesses, and organizations throughout the country.
Everyday Americans, government officials, chambers of commerce, and others want improved national leadership on disaster resilience. More than 500 local leaders spanning all 50 states, along with over 40 national organizations, have signed letters supporting NCARS. By passing the bill, Congress can help ensure that communities, states, and businesses are able to effectively advance resilience measures and cut down on the weather- and climate-related tragedies that are costing our country hundreds of billions in avoidable disaster damage, losses, and recovery costs.
Forbes Tompkins manages federal policy work for The Pew Charitable Trusts’ flood-prepared communities project.