President Biden announced Monday that he will increase federal spending for extreme weather preparation by $500 million, doubling the budget of the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program to $1 billion.
The program helps communities prepare for natural disasters, including hurricanes and wildfires.
Biden also said that he had directed NASA to collect more detailed information on weather patterns.
“We’re going to spare no expense, no effort to keep Americans safe and respond to crises when they arise, and they certainly will,” Biden said. “Now is the time to get ready for the busiest time of the year for disasters in America. Hurricane season in the South and East, and the fire season out West.”
A major reversal: Biden’s move signals a significant change in attitude toward climate change at the federal level. Former President Donald Trump expressed doubts about global warming and questioned the validity of climate science.
But the science of global warming has become increasingly clear, as has the cost of extreme weather events associated with it. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. saw a record number of billion-dollar disasters last year, with 22 events causing $95 billion worth of damage.
Former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long told The Washington Post that Biden’s increase in funding for preparation was a good first step, but the problem is enormous.
“We’re stuck in this unsustainable disaster-recovery cycle. We’re putting out massive amounts of money to help communities recover, instead of preparing for disasters,” Long said. “While I applaud the increase in funding, providing $1 billion to mitigating our nation’s infrastructure is just scratching the surface.”