Pentagon releases list of military bases most at risk to climate change

The Pentagon has sent to Congress a letter containing a list of bases most at risk from climate change threats within the next 20 years.

The bases include Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Naval Air Station Key West, Fla.; and the Army’s Fort Hood in Texas.

The locations top a list of Air Force, Navy and Army installations most at risk from climate change, sent to Congress on March 22 after a group of lawmakers demanded more information from a Pentagon report in January.

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The list “includes scoring and weighting of the five climate-related hazards (recurrent flooding, wildfire, drought, desertification, and permafrost thaw) based on the immediacy of the threat,” writes undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and sustainment Ellen Lord.

“The Department has been and will continue to be proactive in developing comprehensive policy, guidance, and tools to mitigate potential climate impacts, with a focus on robust infrastructure, sound land management policies, and increased energy resilience," she wrote.

Around Washington, D.C., several sites make the Army, Air Force and Navy lists, including Fort Belvoir, Va., and Fort Meade, Md., both at risk for recurrent flooding; Joint Base Andrews, Md., at risk for flooding, drought and wildfires; and Washington Navy Yard and Joint Base Anacostia Bolling, at risk for flooding and drought.

The lists are add-ons to a Defense Department study from January — “Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense” — that found that of 79 operationally critical military installations, 74 are threatened by the effects of climate change over the next 20 years.

Democratic lawmakers, however, were not pleased with the congressionally mandated report when it was released.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), along with fellow committee members Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), and John Garamendi (D-Calif.), sent a letter to the Pentagon demanding the information that Congress had ordered it to include, such as the lists, specific mitigation measures to alleviate climate risks at installations, and cost estimates for such efforts.

Lawmakers now appear equally unhappy with the Pentagon’s latest version of the report, which Langevin likened to “a student rushing to finish a term paper.”

“The Department’s methodology remains opaque. The revised report continues to leave off overseas bases, and it fails to include massive military installations like Camp Lejeune. Most importantly, it continues to lack any assessment of the funds Congress will need to appropriate to mitigate the ever increasing risks to our service members,” Langevin said in a statement sent to The Hill on Wednesday.

“I have repeatedly made myself available to the Department to clarify the intent behind the specific language of the statute providing for the climate report. No one from the Department has ever taken me up on my offer. Given this record, the assurances from the Secretary that he cares about resiliency ring hollow,” he said.

The list is released as Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson on Wednesday urged Congress to provide $4.9 billion in supplemental funding over the next several years to repair Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., damaged last year by Hurricane Michael, and Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., which was flooded last week.

Tyndall and Offutt did not make it on the Pentagon’s top risk list for the Air Force.