Story at a glance

  • As climate change stands to cause an increasing amount of natural disasters, a FEMA proposal could free up funds to build preventative infrastructure.
  • The funds could support infrastructure such as seawalls and relocating homes prone to flooding.

One of the latest Biden administration plans introduces a new framework that will shape U.S. policy to tackle climate change by allocating about $10 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to proactively address natural disasters related to climate change.

The New York Times reports that the funds will be spent on preventative infrastructure, including building seawalls and relocating homes prone to flooding.

“It would dwarf all previous grant programs of its kind,” Daniel Kaniewski, a former deputy administrator at FEMA, told reporters.

The change in focus for FEMA would ultimately shift some of its disaster relief funds to more preventative projects. While it would not take any funding away from FEMA’s projects related to other emergency situations, namely the COVID-19 pandemic, it will give officials the ability to release money from the existing disaster fund. 

The new federal initiative will be called Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC), and initial calculations suggest $3.7 million could be available readily, according to FEMA’s acting deputy associate administrator Michael Grimm. The program has also already garnered more than $500 million in grant funding.

This plan would need to be approved by the White House budget office and is currently just a proposal. 

The Times notes that the idea signals a larger effort on behalf of the Biden administration to take greater steps towards addressing the adverse effects of climate change. 

Preventative funding for FEMA could be considered an investment to prevent future catastrophes related to climate change. 

Data from NASA’s Global Climate Change center notes that as climate change worsens, and more greenhouse gas is released into the atmosphere to cause major changes in the Earth’s temperature, natural disasters like hurricanes will become stronger, and sea levels stand to rise up to 8 feet by the year 2100. 

Specifically in the U.S., the Southeast is likely to see rising sea levels, and the West and Southwest could suffer wildfires even more damaging than those seen over the 2020 and 2019 seasons. 

Published on Jan 26, 2021