Biden administration commits $57 million to territories to reduce effects of climate change
President Joe Biden (D) approved more than $3.46 billion to increase resilience to the impacts of climate change nationwide, $57 million of which will be for the United States territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. This significant investment will be available for natural hazard mitigation measures across the 59 major disaster declarations issued due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
With the growing climate change crisis facing the nation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program will provide funding to states, tribes, and territories for mitigation projects to reduce the impacts of climate change. Every state, tribe, and territory that received a major disaster declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible to receive 4% of those disaster costs to invest in mitigation projects that reduce risks from natural disasters. This influx of funding will help communities prioritize mitigation needs for a more resilient future, including underserved communities that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. These projects can help address the effects of climate change and other unmet mitigation needs, including using funds to promote equitable outcomes in underserved communities
“The Department of Homeland Security is committed to helping build stronger and more resilient communities that are prepared for future disasters,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “States, tribes, territories, and localities will now receive the funding needed to treat the climate crisis with the sense of urgency it demands. Through this funding, communities across the nation will have the critical resources needed to invest in adaptation and resilience, and take meaningful action to combat the effects of climate change. This funding will also help to ensure the advancement of equity in all communities, especially those that are disproportionately at risk from climate change impacts.”
For each territory, the total of funds to be disbursed is as follows: $42,172,793 for Puerto Rico, $6,052,983 for Guam, $5,064,856 for the US Virgin Islands, $702,400 for American Samoa, and $3,133,540 for the Northern Mariana Islands.
“Climate change is our country’s biggest crisis. Our communities will continue to suffer from losses caused by extreme weather events unless we invest in mitigation efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change. This new funding is a tangible solution that we can implement today to help prevent against future risk disasters. It will allow us to provide direct aid to states, tribes, and territories to complete mitigation projects, strengthen our infrastructure, identify long-term solutions to these hazards and ultimately make a real difference in our communities,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.
Communities across the country have been impacted by the enormous effects of hurricanes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and other events. The increasing duration, intensity, and severity of such disasters—which are exacerbated by climate change as well as changes in population, land use, and weather patterns—are alarming and devastating, especially for underserved populations.
For eligible mitigation projects, HMGP funding can cover 75% of total project costs, and states or communities cover the remaining share. Preparing and mitigating for the impacts of climate change, which is one of the most important threats facing the United States, requires the full collaboration of the federal government to support state, local, tribal, and territorial governments.
The FEMA Mitigation Action Portfolio includes examples of innovative mitigation projects that address many types of natural hazards and emphasize the importance of collaboration between governments, private sector entities, and non-governmental organizations in order to achieve effective hazard mitigation and disaster resilience. For example, mitigation projects can:
- Reduce risks associated with climate change, such as wildfires, drought, increased flooding, and coastal erosion, through the use of nature-based features, such as storm water parks, living shorelines, and land conservation.
- Address persistent residential vulnerabilities by mitigating repetitive loss structures affected by flooding.
- Help utilities or other critical facilities adapt to future conditions and reduce risks, through microgrids, seismic and wind retrofits, flood protection, and other infrastructure protection measures.
This one-time investment represents a 23% increase in the funding made available for declared disasters since the program’s inception. Over the past 30 years, this program has made more than $15 billion available to states, tribes, and territories to make communities more resilient and reduce risks from future disasters.