House lawmakers back amendment requiring Pentagon climate change report

House lawmakers back amendment requiring Pentagon climate change report
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The House Armed Services Committee’s annual defense policy bill will include a provision requiring a Defense Department report on the effects of climate change on military installations.

The amendment — brought up by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) in the readiness portion of Wednesday’s markup — instructs each military service to come up with a list of the top 10 military installations likely to be affected by climate change over the next 20 years.

The report would include a list of possible ways to combat such climate change threats as flooding, droughts and increased wildfires.

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Such a provision aims to ensure that the Defense Department “is prepared to address the effects of a changing climate on threat assessments, resources and readiness,” according to the amendment language.

Climate change has become a hotly debated issue under President Trump, who earlier this month announced his intention to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.

Trump himself has not said whether he believes in climate change.  

“The changing global climate will lead to increased instability in the form of economic migration, increased competition over resources and possibly more failed states, which result in breeding grounds for extremism and terrorism,” Langevin said before the committee.

In his amendment, Langevin cites Defense Secretary James Mattis, who has said he agrees “that the effects of a changing climate — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) was the sole lawmaker to speak out against the amendment, claiming it instructs the Pentagon “to take their eye off the ball.”

“We have heard testimony in front of this committee consistently about the array of imminent threats we face … the Russians, Chinese, ISIS, al Qaeda, Iran, North Korea. … There is simply no way that you can argue that climate change is one of those threats. Not even close,” she said. “There is no evidence that climate change causes war.”

She continued: “North Korea is not developing nuclear tipped ICBMs because the climate’s changing. ISIS and al Qaeda are not attacking the West because of the weather.”

“We shouldn’t take steps that impose additional requirements based on political issues, and in my view that’s exactly what this one is,” Cheney added.

But several of her Republican colleagues, including Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopRyan picks his negotiating team for tax cut bill Trump really will shrink government, starting with national monuments Five things to know about Trump's national monuments order MORE (R-Utah), disagreed with her take.

“There is a line in the play ‘1776’ about the Declaration of Independence: ‘I’ve never seen, heard nor smelled an issue so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about.’ There’s nothing dangerous about talking about it. It’s a report,” Bishop said.

Rep. Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) Frederick BridenstineOvernight Regulation: Justice, AT&T trade accusations over CNN sale | House panel approves bill to boost drilling on federal lands | Senate advances Trump EPA air nominee Overnight Tech: Feds, AT&T trade accusations over CNN sale | Ex-Yahoo CEO grilled over breach | Senate panel approves sex trafficking bill Overnight Energy: Senators grill Trump environmental pick | EPA air nominee heads to Senate floor | Feds subpoena ex-Trump adviser over biofuels push MORE (R-Okla.) backed up Bishop’s line of thinking.

“It’s just a report and there are strategic implications that we need to be aware of,” he said.

Rep. Susan Davis (R-Calif.) called the amendment “a start.”

Climate change “is one of those issues that is sort of in that bucket that we ignore at our own peril,” Davis said.