WASHINGTON, D.C. -- House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) and Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) issued the following statement following the release of the Defense Department’s report on climate change. Langevin amended the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, and Chairman Smith fought successfully for the amendment’s inclusion in the final conference report, expressing the sense of Congress that climate change is a national security issue and requiring the report on each service branch’s top ten military installations threatened by climate change:
“In 2017, House Democrats successfully required the Department of Defense to report on the impact that climate change will have on U.S. military installations. The Trump administration has now released that report and, unfortunately, it is inadequate. It demonstrates a continued unwillingness to seriously recognize and address the threat that climate change poses to our national security and military readiness,” said Chairman Smith. “While this climate report acknowledges that nearly all the military installations it studied are vulnerable to major climate change impacts, and provides numerous installation-level examples of those impacts, it fails to even minimally discuss a mitigation plan to address the vulnerabilities. The Department of Defense presented no specifics on what is required to ensure operational viability and mission resiliency, and failed to estimate the future costs associated with ensuring these installations remain viable. That information was required by law. The Department of Defense must develop concrete, executable plans to address the national security threats presented by climate change. As drafted, this report fails to do that.”
“I am deeply disappointed in the cursory report released by the Department of Defense regarding climate change as a matter of national security. While the Pentagon does rightly acknowledge that a changing climate will affect military readiness and installations, the report does not reflect the urgency of the challenge,” said Congressman Langevin. “Remarkably, the report comes after a year where the Department suffered nearly $10 billion in damage in just two extreme events at Tyndall Air Force Base and Camp Lejeune—two installations that were not even evaluated. Congress deliberately required a list of the top ten bases to specify the methodological rigor that is required to adequately evaluate risk and prioritize mitigation efforts. The report contains no such list. My amendment did not stipulate any geographic constraints on vulnerable installations - after all global warming is a global phenomenon. For no apparent reason, the report confines itself to U.S. bases. Extreme weather events, like the ones that the Department will be asking Congress for money to rebuild after, are not even included as a threat.
“We need to know the risks to our military from climate change and the costs to mitigate them in order to protect the American people. This report brings us no closer to knowing them. It is unacceptable that the Department has ignored the clear instructions provided by law, and it is unacceptable that our service members and readiness will suffer as a result,” concluded Langevin. “I expect the Department to reissue a report that meets its statutory mandate and rigorously confronts the realities of our warming planet.”