VP Kamala Harris Visits FIU to Address ‘Urgent' Climate Crisis and Announce $1B in Climate Resiliency Projects

Harris spoke at Florida International University where she detailed the Biden administration's efforts to respond to natural disasters

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Vice President Kamala Harris addressed climate change during her visit to Miami Monday, calling it an “immediate” and “urgent” crisis.

Harris spoke at Florida International University where she detailed the Biden administration's efforts to respond to natural disasters.

"The science is clear," she said. "Extreme weather will only get worse, and the climate crisis will only accelerate."

During her visit to FIU, Harris announced that more than $1 billion in grants will be made available to states to address flooding and extreme heat exacerbated by climate change with the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other officials.

While visiting the National Hurricane Center before the grant announcement, Harris said Monday that disasters like the Kentucky flood and California wildfires show “how immediate, how current and how urgent the issue is of addressing the extreme weather that we’ve been experiencing around the country and the world.''

Farmworkers in South Florida are supporting efforts to create safety standards, including heat provisions and treatment for heat illness, as climate change makes working conditions deadly for some.

The competitive grants will help communities across the nation prepare for and respond to climate-related disasters.

"We know that the impacts of the climate crisis are here and that we must invest in building resilience to protect our communities, infrastructure and economy,'' the White House said in a statement.

The announcement comes as the death toll from massive flooding in Kentucky continued to climb on Sunday amid a renewed threat of more heavy rains. In the West, wildfires in California and Montana exploded in size amid windy, hot conditions, encroaching on neighborhoods and forcing evacuation orders.

Multiple Western states continued heat advisories amid a prolonged drought that has dried reservoirs and threatened communities across the region.

President Joe Biden announced last month that the administration will spend $2.3 billion to help communities cope with soaring temperatures through programs administered by FEMA, the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies. The move doubles spending on the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, or BRIC, program, which supports states, local communities, tribes and territories on projects to reduce climate-related hazards and prepare for natural disasters such as floods and wildfires.

“Communities across our nation are experiencing first-hand the devastating impacts of the climate change and the related extreme weather events that follow — more energized hurricanes with deadlier storm surges, increased flooding and a wildfire season that’s become a year-long threat,” FEMA head Deanne Criswell said.

The funding announced Monday will “help to ensure that our most vulnerable communities are not left behind, with hundreds of millions of dollars ultimately going directly to the communities that need it most,'' Criswell said.

A total of $1 billion will be made available through the BRIC program, with another $160 million to be offered for flood mitigation assistance, officials said.

Jacksonville, Florida, was among the cities that received money under the BRIC program last year. The city was awarded $23 million for flood mitigation and stormwater infrastructure. Jacksonville, the largest city in Florida, sits in a humid, subtropical region along the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean, making it vulnerable to flooding when stormwater basins reach capacity. The city experiences frequent flooding and is at risk for increased major storms.

The South Florida Water Management District in Miami-Dade County received $50 million for flood mitigation and pump station repairs. Real estate development along the city’s fast-growing waterfront has created a high-risk flood zone for communities in the city and put pressure on existing systems, making repairs to existing structures an urgent need, officials said.

The Biden administration has launched a series of actions intended to reduce heat-related illness and protect public health, including a proposed workplace heat standard.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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