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Washington, D.C. December 21, 2021 – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), and Representative Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), a member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III urging the Department of Defense (DoD) to take proactive steps to ensure the strength and readiness of DoD assets and installations in the face of the climate crisis.

Text of Letter (PDF)

“We encourage you to take the proactive steps outlined in the Department of Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act to ensure our Armed Forces are resilient and prepared to adjust to the climate challenges we face for years to come,” the lawmakers wrote.   

Climate change is an existential threat that poses fundamental risks to national security and DoD’s operations worldwide. The Department has recognized the threat of climate change for more than ten years. In 2010, DoD reported that climate change threatens the nation’s coastal infrastructure and military capabilities. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2019, eight different military leaders publicly confirmed to Senator Warren the threat that climate change already poses to U.S. national security and strategic interests around the world, and reaffirmed the need to address it. DoD has already seen firsthand the effects of a rapidly evolving climate and the increased frequency of dangerous storms. In 2019, the Department requested nearly $9 billion in supplemental funding to fix damage to multiple bases following several hurricanes and subsequent flooding.

In the letter, the lawmakers call on DoD to enact proposals from the Department of Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act. The legislation, originally introduced by Senator Warren and Representative Escobar in 2019, would not only address DoD’s role as the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, but also ensure the Department’s resilience against climate change. Specifically, this legislation would require DoD to consider climate change-related risks when making any decision with respect to base realignment or closure as well as the positioning of any other infrastructure or assets. The lawmakers call on DoD to carefully examine a base’s vulnerability to climate change before authorizing any military construction projects. 

“It is imperative the Department take steps to increase its resiliency against climate change. Fortunately, DoD does not need to wait for Congress to enact these proposals. You and the Armed Services already have the authorities you need to make these decisions with the climate crisis in mind without a mandate from Congress. These decisions that we can make today will have a profound impact on our ability to defend the nation and protect our interests abroad for years to come,” the lawmakers concluded