Will Republicans Attack Climate Preparedness Even at the Cost of National Security?

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Recently, House Republicans—constantly trying to frustrate all manner of climate change measures by the administration—took a clear step too far. Here’s the June 2 story, from E&E News:

The House voted today to prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from participating in the Obama administration’s Interagency Task Force on Climate Change Adaptation.

The amendment by Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) was added to the House’s fiscal 2012 Department of Homeland Security spending bill. The vote was 242-180.

The Carter amendment would likely prohibit DHS staff from coordinating with staff from other agencies to assess the risks climate change poses to domestic security and to find ways to adapt to it, an administration aide said.

The alleged justification for this measure is to save a few bucks. But honestly, if climate change is a potential threat to our homeland security, do Republicans really want to prevent the department of Homeland Security from assessing that risk?

Let’s go to the debate on the House floor over this amendment. Here’s Rep. Norman Dicks, (D-WA), explaining why hobbling the DHS is such a bad idea:

This is a national security issue.

The Navy is now looking at the coastal areas. As the seas rise, it’s going to affect Navy installations all over this country. I brought in the Park Service when I was chairman of the Interior. I brought in the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service. They all see the effects. We have a longer fire season.

This is something you can’t ignore. This is a national issue that is significant, so to have a Department of Homeland Security that isn’t going to look at the consequences of climate change after what we’ve seen this year is just ridiculous on the face of it.

Ridiculous–and very contrary to Republican values. Still, this hobbling of DHS is not the only such case. Recently, the CIA opened a Center on Climate Change and National Security. Yet it, too, is threatened by indiscriminate budget cutters. 

I cannot believe that Republicans will continue to be successful if they go down this road. For in doing so, they are putting two of their core values into opposition to one another.

Republicans believe strongly in “national security,” and thus are chief supporters of the military and intelligence agencies, and their big federal budgets. At the same time, the party also supports “individualism”—keeping the government from interfering with the free market, which is the lens through which Republicans generally justify their resistance to climate action.

On the national security implications of climate change, however, these values are in obvious conflict–and not in a way that will look good to average Americans who are wondering about the role of global warming in various weather-related disasters.

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