WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) participated in a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on the Climate Crisis entitled, “Understanding and Combating the Security Risks of Climate Change.”
Senator Heinrich discussed the importance of having a national standard for building codes for structures located on the grounds of military installations to enhance the resilience of commercial construction projects. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 included a provision championed by Senator Heinrich to establish a uniform code of basic housing standards and requires inspections to ensure compliance.
Senator Heinrich also discussed the issue that 102 installations, including four in New Mexico, are at risk of water scarcity. In November 2019, a Government Accountability Office report found that the DoD and military services are using disparate methodologies and information sources in assessing vulnerability to water scarcity, calling the results into question. Heinrich questioned the witness panel on their assessment of the way DoD and the military services are collecting and evaluating data on climate-related vulnerabilities impacting installations and also any recommendations moving forward.
The committee heard from experts on how the risks created by climate change impact our country’s national security. The Department of Defense has long observed that climate change poses a risk to military readiness. Extreme and more frequent weather events due to climate change, like flooding, droughts, wildfires, and storms, pose immediate threats to the safety of key military installations and training ranges worldwide. Additionally, the climate change crisis is considered a “threat multiplier” because it exacerbates the myriad challenges facing the world's most vulnerable populations.