Tags: biden | climate change | extreme weather | 2 billion | climate resilience

Biden Admin Earmarks $2B for Climate Resilience

Biden Admin Earmarks $2B for Climate Resilience
A driver stops on a mud-covered bridge while deciding whether to drive through flood waters of the Winooski River in Montpelier, Vt., on July 12, 2023. (Charles Krupa/AP)

Thursday, 12 October 2023 11:46 AM EDT

The U.S. government said Thursday the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will make nearly $2 billion of new money available through two programs intended to boost resilience to climate-related disasters before they happen.

The funding comes as climate change drives more intense storms, flooding and wildfires across the United States, where this year there have already been at least 24 weather or climate events that resulted in losses of more than $1 billion each, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

MITIGATION IN MIND

The two programs FEMA is funding are Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC), which funds projects providing protection from the effects of climate change, and the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) program, which targets projects that cut flood risk.

Victoria Salinas, head of resilience at FEMA, said while the agency was associated with emergency response and recovery, it also focused on mitigation to lessen the impact of disasters.

President Joe Biden's administration has "really been focused on pulling resilience out of the shadows of response and recovery," Salinas told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.

In the latest round of project funding, the BRIC annual grant program is making $1 billion available and the FMA program $800 million, with applications open until February next year.

Resilience funding has expanded since the U.S. administration's 2021 infrastructure law. In August, FEMA announced selections as part of a nearly $3-billion pool of funding for resilience projects across the country, including upgrading water pipelines and stabilizing creek banks.

The programs allocate money ahead of time to help communities prepare for future climate-related impacts, rather than mobilizing after disaster has struck.

"We know it's the best use of taxpayer money to fund projects that mitigate risk," said Kristin Smith of Headwaters Economics, a nonprofit research group.

FEMA aims to help underserved areas access BRIC funds, providing technical assistance and taking on a greater share of the cost.

But the vast majority of BRIC funding for last year went to East and West Coast states, and half the states collectively received less than 5% of the funds, according to analysis by Headwaters Economics.

UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES

The challenges underscore a major difficulty with climate financing at the global level - how to best steer funds toward communities most affected by the climate crisis that are frequently the least equipped to access the cash.

"A big competitive grant (program) like BRIC is going to work really well for the New York Citys, the San Franciscos. And it's probably just not going to work that well for rural communities," Smith said.

FEMA said selections announced earlier this year included projects in 23 states that had not previously received competitive BRIC funding.

Certain grant funding through the program is set aside for U.S. states, tribes, and territories, while funds for large projects are made available through a national competition.

Salinas said the agency was taking other steps like streamlining the process for cost-benefit analyzes, as well as helping steer funding for capacity-building in areas most at risk from natural hazards and climate change.

"We've heard from so many states that they want to support their most underserved communities, to build their capacity, develop a great pipeline of projects," Salinas said.

FEMA's disaster relief funding levels reached such a low level over this year that the agency had to hold off on certain non-immediate needs projects, though last month's stopgap government funding bill has provided a bit of breathing room.

"We want our programs like BRIC and FMA to be the go-to investment tools for adaptation and resilience building in this nation," said Salinas.

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


StreetTalk
The U.S. government said Thursday the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will make nearly $2 billion of new money available through two programs intended to boost resilience to climate-related disasters before they happen.
biden, climate change, extreme weather, 2 billion, climate resilience
628
2023-46-12
Thursday, 12 October 2023 11:46 AM
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