Cardin: GAO Says Failure to Prepare for Climate Change Impacts Will Cost Taxpayers
Since 2005, federal funding for disaster assistance is at least $450 billion
WASHINGTON (November 22, 2019)—U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, announced Friday the results of a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) outlining how unprepared the federal government is for climate change and extreme weather events. In a study requested by Senator Cardin, GAO lays out what small investments in resilience have been made to date, but laments the vast financial exposure facing the federal government for its lack of strategic planning. According to GAO, the federal government has spent at least $450 billion for disaster assistance since 2005. The report can be downloaded at www.gao.gov/products/GAO-20-127
“The best available science tells us that climate change is causing irreparable harm and that the increasing instances and severity of extreme weather are adding to social and economic instability. Dealing with climate change has become a national security imperative and the longer we turn a blind eye to the impacts, the more costly it will be for American taxpayers,” said Senator Cardin. “Americans have a right to expect that their tax dollars are spent on the most effective resilience projects and that Congress will do everything within its power to ensure that happens.”
On September 8, 2017, Senator Cardin sent a letter asking GAO to identify the benefits of adaptation to manage federal climate change fiscal exposure. The result is the report released today: “Climate Resilience: A Strategic Investment Approach for High-Priority Projects Could Help Target Federal Resources.”
In the report, GAO sets out six key steps that provide an opportunity for the federal government to strategically identify and prioritize climate resilience projects for investment, based on GAO’s review of its prior work, relevant reports, and stakeholder interviews with officials from the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), which produces the National Climate Assessment, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and others with expertise in climate resilience and hazard mitigation.
GAO identified two options for focusing federal funding on high-priority climate resilience projects: coordinating funding through multiple existing programs with varied purposes and creating a new federal funding sources dedicated to investment in climate resilience and assessed the strengths and limitations of each option.
The report’s findings make clear that the federal government does not have a strategic approach for investing in climate resilience projects—that is, an intentional, cross-cutting approach in which the federal government identifies and prioritizes projects for the purpose of enhancing climate resilience. Information on the benefits and costs of climate resilience projects suggests that such projects can convey benefits, such as protecting life and property from climate hazards, according to the Fourth National Climate Assessment and other reports GAO reviewed.
Senator Cardin: “Maryland’s miles of low-lying coast make it particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Inland, South Baltimore, Frederick and Ellicott City have seen unprecedented flooding due to human-caused changes to our climate. Our water and transportation infrastructure systems will be challenged with the expected increase in rainfall in the region, causing damage to homes and businesses. I will continue to advocate for climate resilience investments to ensure communities in Maryland and the nation are prepared.”
TOP OF PAGE
To Be Equal: On Thanksgiving, Reflect Upon the Redemptive Power of Love
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens … and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
—President Abraham Lincoln, 1863
The origin of Thanksgiving as a national holiday is rooted in the need to heal the nation following the Civil War. In recent years, it seems as though our nation has needed healing more than any other time since then.
Everywhere we look, we see advice for negotiating political differences over the Thanksgiving table. How will we get through the day being nice to people who disagree with us?
As a civil rights organization dedicated to righting historical wrongs, we have felt this nation’s divisions all too keenly. As we struggle as a nation to find a way to come together on this holiday that Abraham Lincoln dedicated to unity, I recall a sermon of Martin Luther King, Jr., on “loving your enemies,” in which he invoked Lincoln’s own approach to loving his enemies.
Lincoln famously appointed Edwin Stanton, a bitter rival, as his Secretary of War. And after Lincoln’s assassination, Stanton offered up what King called “a beautiful statement concerning the character and the stature of this man,” the often-quoted, “Now he belongs to the ages.”
King saw in the story of Lincoln and Stanton a powerful message about the redemptive power of love.
“If Abraham Lincoln had hated Stanton, if Abraham Lincoln had answered everything Stanton said, Abraham Lincoln would have not transformed and redeemed Stanton. Stanton would have gone to his grave hating Lincoln, and Lincoln would have gone to his grave hating Stanton. But through the power of love Abraham Lincoln was able to redeem Stanton.”
King always counseled against answering hate with hate. In that same sermon, he told a story of driving at night with his brother. His brother was agitated by passing drivers who failed to dim their lights, and threatened to respond in kind to the next discourteous driver. But as King reminded him, that would simply make the highway more dangerous for everyone.
“Somebody got to have some sense on this highway,” King said.
We have to have some sense on this highway we are negotiating right now. We have got to resist the temptation to answer hatred with blinding hatred.
If you dread breaking bread with someone who disagrees with you politically, remember that King forgave a woman who stabbed him, nearly killing him.
Loving our enemies doesn’t mean accepting oppression. Loving our enemies is the way we transform them from oppressor. To paraphrase King, there are three ways to respond to oppression: with violence and hatred, with acquiescence and resignation, or non-violent resistance based on love.
We often see King’s messages of peace invoked as a caution against the ambitious pursuit of justice, and his radicalism downplayed. To imagine exactly what Dr. King would have said or done in response to the events of recent history is a game played by those who would use his legacy to justify their own responses. But what we can know is that he would never give up hope, and he would never stop believing in the redemptive power of love.
November 26, 2019
TOP OF PAGE
Governor Hogan Commemorates Victims of Drunk Driving Crashes 16th Annual Maryland Remembers Ceremony Honors Victims and Families, Calls Attention to Consequences of Impaired Driving as Holiday Season Begins
By SHAREESE CHURCHILL
Office of the Governor
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (November 26, 2019)—Governor Larry Hogan [last week] joined state officials and more than 100 family members and friends of victims of impaired driving crashes for the 16th annual Maryland Remembers ceremony. Maryland Remembers honors the lives and legacies of Marylanders who have been killed in impaired driving crashes. During the ceremony, Governor Hogan presented the Kevin Quinlan Award to retired Maryland State Police Lieutenant and the state’s current Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Coordinator Thomas Woodward for his work and advocacy in preventing impaired driving.
The ceremony included Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel William Pallozzi, Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administrator (MDOT MVA) Chrissy Nizer, and highway safety advocates from the Maryland Affiliate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP).
“Too many Maryland families have been shattered and too many lives have been cut short, which is why we will never stop fighting to prevent more needless deaths from drunk or drugged driving,” said Governor Hogan. “On behalf of all the citizens of our state, let me say thank you and God bless you for choosing to speak out about the heartbreak you have endured, thank you for your courage and your bravery, and thank you for channeling your unimaginable grief and pain into such a positive effort to save lives and help keep others from experiencing the same loss.”
The annual event—held this year at the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis—takes place at the beginning of the holiday season, when impaired driving crashes tend to increase. In 2018, of the more than 19,000 people arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, approximately 2,225 arrests occurred from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
Maryland is at the forefront of the national effort to stop the increasingly dangerous trend of impaired driving. Earlier this year, following a multi-year effort, Governor Hogan enacted House Bill 707, which increases penalties for those convicted of a DUI or DWI for first-time and subsequent offenders. These penalties include increased fines and jail time for repeat offenders and the doubling of penalties for first and repeat offenders if they transport a minor while impaired by drugs or alcohol. In 2016, the governor enacted Noah’s Law, a measure that expanded Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program to mandate that interlock devices be installed in vehicles of convicted drunk drivers even for the first conviction.
“Maryland State Police, along with our law enforcement partners throughout the state, are committed to ensuring the safety of our citizens,” said Colonel Pallozzi. “Officers will be out during the holiday season targeting those who have made the reckless decision to get behind the wheel while impaired.”
From 2014 to 2018, nearly 800 people were killed and 16,000 were injured in impaired driving crashes in Maryland. Impairment caused by alcohol and/or drugs is a contributing factor in roughly one-third of highway fatalities and serious injuries each year.
“Impaired driving crashes are no accident, and the resulting injuries and deaths from these crashes are completely preventable,” said Administrator Nizer, who also serves as Governor Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “Always make a plan for a safe and sober ride home.”
In August, MDOT MVA debuted the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, which the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says could help reduce drunk driving fatalities by as much as 60 percent. The system works by measuring the level of alcohol on a driver’s naturally exhaled breath. MDOT MVA is piloting the technology on several of its fleet vehicles.
“There is never a good reason to get behind the wheel of a car and drive impaired, which is why we must continue to do everything in our power to save lives and to prevent future tragedies,” said Governor Hogan. A Maryland Remembers Memory Stone will be placed on state grounds in Annapolis.
TOP OF PAGE