President Biden Announces Measures to Address Extreme Heat Impacts

By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor

Yesterday, President Biden announced a coordinated, interagency effort to address extreme heat threatening lives across the nation. After a summer of extreme temperatures, deadly heat domes, and raging wildfires, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services; Homeland Security; and Agriculture; the EPA; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are launching a series of initiatives to beat the heat. 

 

Why this Matters: Heat is the nation’s number one weather-related killer, taking 12,000 American lives each year. Climate change increases that risk for millions of people and impacts their access to water and utilities, especially those already living in drought-stricken areas. Calls are now rising to protect the nation’s workers from rising temperatures as well. Between 1992 and 2017, heat killed 815 US workers and seriously injured another 70,000. And, like most impacts of climate change, Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous communities are most at risk. 

 

In a statement by the President: “Rising temperatures pose an imminent threat to millions of American workers exposed to the elements, to kids in schools without air conditioning, to seniors in nursing homes without cooling resources, and particularly to disadvantaged communities.”

 

All Hands on Deck

The Biden administration’s plan includes a broad array of departments and agencies, each of which will do their part to combat the impacts of increasing extreme heat. In addition to individual actions and initiatives, agencies will play a role in the administration’s whole-of-government approach to extreme heat, including:

  • Developing workplace heat standards and increasing enforcement through the Department of Labor and OSHA, which will launch a rulemaking process to develop workplace heat standards. 
  • Providing cooling assistance for households and communities by increasing access to in-home air conditioning and public cooling centers, including leveraging American Rescue Plan funding to use schools as cooling centers in vulnerable communities.
  • Addressing disproportionate heat impacts to communities of color and other marginalized communities including urban heat islands.
  • Increasing preparedness with local data sharing by partnering with local officials to provide and enhance data, research, and planning tools.

 

President Biden says that these actions will also supplement his Build Back Better Agenda. “My Administration will not leave Americans to face this threat alone … We need to rebuild with resilience in mind; we have to act, and act fast, to save lives, homes, jobs, and industries, and build the clean energy economy of the future.”

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