Energy & Environment

GAO to review if climate change hinders military contractors’ response to national security threats

The Government Accountability Office has announced that it will review how climate change impacts military contractors’ ability to respond to national security threats.

In a letter sent last week but released Tuesday, the agency committed to “review potential threats to national security resulting from the impacts of climate change on defense contractors and the defense supply chain.” It will also look into “the extent to which the Department of Defense addresses climate change and other environmental risks during the contracting process.”

The review, which comes in response to a request from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), would brush up against the Trump administration’s efforts to hedge the military consensus on global warming.

Warren requested the agency review in April, shortly after the Trump administration began forming a panel largely viewed as a way to counter the military’s assessment that climate change poses a risk to U.S. safety.

“Climate change is a threat to national security,” Warren said in a release about her request. “Defense contractors receive hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars each year. We need to ensure that their vulnerabilities to climate change do not threaten military readiness, and that defense contractors are doing their part to fight climate change and mitigate climate change-related risks.”

The Pentagon warned in January that climate change poses a national security issue, noting that two-thirds of critical military installations are at risk of being hurt by climate change–related flooding and wildfires over the next 20 years.

“The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense missions, operational plans, and installations,” the report stated.

By February, the Trump administration had begun to form a panel to counter that government report and others showing climate change as a risk to national security.

Warren, a 2020 presidential candidate, released her letter as a growing number of Democratic candidates have released climate-related policies.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has pitched himself as the climate change candidate, while Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) each recently rolled out climate-related plans of their own.

Warren was one of the first candidates to announce a major climate policy, unveiling a plan earlier this month to stop drilling on public lands.

Tags 2020 Climate change DOD Elizabeth Warren Elizabeth Warren Jay Inslee Pentagon

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