Biden Directs $1 Billion for Severe Weather Preparedness
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden announced on Monday a doubling of federal spending on preparations for severe weather events, the president’s latest move to put climate change at the center of his domestic agenda.
The administration will provide $1 billion this year to state, local and tribal governments to prevent damage from floods, hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters, the White House said in a statement. Biden is also directing the National Aeronautic and Space Administration to collect more advanced climate data.
“We all know these storms are coming, and we’re going to be prepared,” Biden said during a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters. “We have to be ready.”
The president has pledged to address climate change, including a push to build roads, bridges and seaports better able to withstand storms that are increasing in severity due to global warming. The approach stands in contrast to the views of President Donald Trump, who called climate change a “hoax” and disputed its connection to extreme weather events.
The money will come from funding already allocated for 2021 and will be distributed through the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program. The announcement comes one week after Biden signed an executive order directing the government come up with a strategy to measure the risks climate change poses to public and private financial assets.
Forecasters believe 2021 will have another overactive hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted as many as 20 storm systems could be named this year. Of those, six to 10 would develop into hurricanes, and three to five would become major storms with winds of 111 miles per hour or more.
A storm is named when its winds reach 39 miles per hour (63 kilometers per hour) and an average season has 14 such systems.
The Atlantic Ocean has produced one storm so far this year with Tropical Storm Ana emerging to the east of Bermuda over the weekend. The short-lived system has already fallen apart, but it is the record seventh year in a row storms have begun before the official June 1 start of the six-month season.
Atlantic storms are closely watched because they can disrupt global energy, agriculture, and insurance markets. The Gulf of Mexico is home to about 16% of the U.S.’s crude oil production and 2% of its gas output. In addition, about 48% of American refining capacity is located along the Gulf Coast, and Florida is the world’s second-largest source of orange juice.
In addition to that, trillions of dollars of real estate from Mexico to Maine are vulnerable to hurricane strike.
As the world’s oceans have warmed, storms have become more destructive. Last year, a record 30 storms formed in the Atlantic, which left more than 400 people dead and caused over $40 billion in damage and losses across North America. The National Hurricane Center resorted to using Greek letters to designate storms because so many took shape last year.
Biden’s infrastructure proposal includes $50 billion for improving resilience across the electric grid, transportation networks and cities and part of the money would go toward retrofitting buildings to make them better able to handle the effects of climate change.
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