This summer, the House GOP’s Energy, Climate, and Conservation (ECC) Task Force hosted community events as part of their unveiling of a six-pillar policy agenda built on the proven success of conservative energy policies, and we have been posting summaries of these events on our blog. If you missed any of the previous posts, they are:
- Unlock American Resources
- American Innovation
- Let America Build
- Beat China and Russia
- Conservation with a Purpose; and
- Build Resilient Communities
The final event, held last month, focused on what is likely to be one of the most important priorities given forecasts of another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season and predictions of an “unreasonably cold” winter. House Republicans highlighted the need to “Build Resilient Communities” as the last of its six pillars, which they will continue emphasizing heading into this fall’s mid-term congressional elections.
This event was a roundtable hosted by ECC Task Force Chairman Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana at the Port of New Orleans, which generates over $100 million in revenue annually through cargo, rail, cruise, and industrial real estate.
Memories of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 remain fresh in the communities that rely on the port, and participants heard and saw how local industries and communities partner to implement pragmatic and proven solutions to mitigate the impact of the next major hurricane. The roundtable discussed Louisiana’s working coastline and fishery and the adaptive solutions that have been implemented to build resilient communities.
Rep. Graves was joined by Reps. Debbie Lesko of Arizona, Billy Long of Missouri, Austin Scott of Georgia, and Adrian Smith of Nebraska. Members toured local resilience and adaptation projects around Louisiana the next day—including the Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle, the levee at the Lower Ninth Ward and water management practices at the Bonnet Carre Spillway.
Community participants included Pierre Conner, executive director of the Tulane Energy Institute, who stressed the importance of sustainability and resiliency measures, given Louisiana is a top energy producer, and Hugh Roberts, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at The Water Institute of the Gulf, who discussed the importance of science-informed decision making when it comes to policy.
“We often think about resilience meaning resilience from hurricanes or from tropical storms, but resilience actually means a lot more than that,” Rep. Graves explained. “It’s about the resiliency of our communities, which means property, which means economy, which means the environment, which means our ability to continue living and thriving in these areas.”
Examples of Republican legislative solutions include Natural Disaster Recovery Program Act of 2021, introduced by Rep. David Rouzer of North Carolina, which would consolidate disaster assistance for unmet needs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including necessary expenses for activities related to resiliency, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and mitigation, and economic revitalization to reduce duplication across federal programs, and Rep. Stephanie Bice’s, of Oklahoma, NOAA Weather Radio Modernization Act, which would provide support for existing NOAA Weather Radio broadcast and transmitter infrastructure. See additional related legislation from the GOP here.
These solutions are important, but right now, last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) should be the central focus for preparing America for almost any disaster—if the deployment of these funds is swift.
As CRES President Heather Reams wrote in an editorial in Newsweek at the beginning of the hurricane season, “the resources are there to make a difference and prepare communities for future hurricanes, but federal and state agencies need to act with urgency to prioritize the deployment of these projects.”
CRES applauds the ECC Task Force and the six policy pillars it has put forth. The majority of Republican voters want the government to address climate issues, but it needs to be done smartly and strategically. A task force reflects the importance of this priority for the nation and for bringing common sense back to climate policy.”