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Pentagon vows to fight climate change's impact on military installations

The DOD spent $67 million on the problem in 2020 alone.

WASHINGTON — For the last decade, the Defense Department has acknowledged climate change as a problem.

"Climate change is a direct threat to Army readiness and our ability to accomplish the mission," said Jack Surach, Acting Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Army for Installations, Environment and Energy.

 A 2018 DoD study found that that 53 of 79 bases face current threats from flooding, including Langley Air Force Base, Naval Air Station Oceana, Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads and Naval Station Norfolk.

"It's not just about addressing climate change, but about ensuring that our installations can continue to perform their critical missions without disruption," said Rep. John Garamendi (D-California).

During a House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee hearing Wednesday, DOD and individual branch leaders said they were responding to climate change now, and will do so in the future.

"Clearly, climate is a big deal for us," said Todd Schaefer, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations, Environment and Energy. "We're prioritizing it into all the actions we do. We're doing that to build climate resiliency into all of our infrastructure."

Under an executive order put in place by the Biden administration, the Pentagon must consider the security implications of climate change when developing the National Defense Strategy.

Starting in January 2022, the DoD will also have to provide an annual update through the National Security Council on the progress it has made in incorporating the security implications of climate change.

Unfortunately, solving this problem isn't cheap.

The DOD spent $67 million tax dollars last year alone to help bases vulnerable to flooding, hurricanes and wildfires work with their surrounding communities. 

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