Biden Administration considering allocating COVID-19 funds to climate change programs: Report
Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF
The Biden administration is considering authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to allocate COVID-19 funding for climate change projects, The New York Times reported Monday.
The plan would reallocate part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) overall disaster budget to projects designed to preemptively address damage from climate disasters, The Times reported. The agency wants to build seawalls and elevate or relocate homes in flood planes with the reallocated funds.
FEMA plans to include funding allocated for COVID-19 response in its restructuring of the budget, according to The Times. FEMA Acting Deputy Associate Administrator for Disaster Mitigation Michael M. Grimm said that an initial estimate found $3.7 billion that could go to the program to address climate change with the potential for more later on.
We are currently facing four converging crises — COVID-19, the resulting economic crisis, climate change, and racial inequity. Today, President Biden took actions to combat these challenges. pic.twitter.com/091jmvCukk
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 21, 2021
The total amount of funding could reach $10 million if COVID-19 resources are directed towards the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, though Grimm said the decision to include pandemic relief funds has not yet been made, The Times reported. The proposal would give FEMA access to draw from the government’s dedicated disaster fund and would not necessarily mean reducing available funding for COVID-19 response.
The plan would need approval from the White House budget office, according to The Times. The proposal focuses less on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and is more concentrated on protecting homes and people from severe storms, flooding and fires.
President Joe Biden signed an order requiring higher construction standards for federally constructed buildings in flood zones during his first days in office, The Times reported. If the proposal is approved by the White House, it will likely receive bipartisan support after a previous report found that the government saved money by providing funding for disaster preparation.
FEMA was given $19.4 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund and $2.3 billion for grant funding for 2020, according to the Department of Homeland Security.