Inspired by an office that launched in Colorado nearly a decade ago, U.S. Rep. Jason Crow wants to set aside more than a billion dollars to help states and Native American tribes prepare for climate change.
Crow, a Democrat, announced Thursday morning that he and Rep. David Rouzer, a Republican from North Carolina, are proposing a six-year grant program for governments looking to create offices that would handle natural disasters, changes to the environment and more.
If enacted, $200 million in grant funding would become available each year for a total of $1.2 billion.
“This bill is to provide resources and funding for states and local communities around the country to make their communities more resilient to the climate crisis,” Crow said. “It’s happening now. This crisis is already on us.”
The proposal is modeled after Colorado’s Resiliency Office, which launched in 2013, Crow said. The director of that office, Anne Miller, alongside representatives of other environmental groups like the Sierra Club, Conservation Colorado and the BlueGreen Alliance, offered their support for the legislation.
To qualify for a two-year grant, states and tribes must establish a resiliency framework that would have to be updated every five years, Crow said. That framework would have to examine the environment, natural hazards, the economy, infrastructure, housing, health and social services, identifying existing risks and weaknesses.
Governments could use the grant money to create and maintain resiliency offices, launch programs and build planning and analytic tools, Crow said.
States and tribes applying for the grants would receive priority if they have a focus on equity and form an advisory group that includes members of disadvantaged communities, labor and workforce development, tribal nations, local governments and public health or climate experts, Crow said.
Communities across the country already are spending billions to recover from natural disasters and other effects of climate change, Crow said. He nodded to victims of the Marshall fire in Boulder County, and estimated that recovery costs for that disaster alone will surpass $1 billion.
“We can either spend a much smaller amount now to become more resilient, more secure and stronger,” Crow said. “Or we’re going to spend a lot more money later.”