The VA Has Not Updated Its Climate Assessments and Plans In Five Years

Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

While the Defense Department has had to provide annual reports to Congress on the expected impacts of climate change on military installations and operations, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) had not done a similar assessment since 2014 Senators Elizabeth Warren and Brian Schatz recently wrote to the VA urging the Department urging them to start better preparing for climate change, noting that extreme weather events have already disrupted operations at a host of department sites.

Why This Matters:  There are many facilities providing vital services to veterans that have been already or will be detrimentally impacted by climate change. Veterans already experience inexcusably long wait times for services and health care in some regions of the country — those should not be longer on account of climate change impacts that should have been anticipated by the agency.

VA Must Factor Climate Change Into Risk Assessments

According to the Senators’ letter, natural disasters and extreme weather events have adversely affected VA infrastructure and operations at facilities across the country in recent years, including in Louisiana, Texas, New York, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Puerto Rico.  As the Senators explained in their letter, “VA, like all federal agencies, has finite resources and must balance competing budget priorities. However, those priorities must include adapting VA infrastructure and operations to climate risks.”  The VA had significant supply and staffing issues after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in 2017.  Similarly, after Hurricane Florence struck the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina in 2018, numerous VA medical sites were closed for days after the powerful storm dumped up to 30 inches of rain on some sections of the state, and some 200 patients had to be evacuated to other facilities and more than 5,000 patient appointments were canceled because of the hurricane and its aftermath.

Up Next

Historic Floods Threaten Sudan’s Economy and Ancient Pyramids

After heavy seasonal rains late last month and in early September, in Sudan, the White Nile and the Blue Nile, its main tributary, have flooded, causing the death of over 100 people and the damage of over 100,000 homes, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. 

Why this matters:  Climate change-related flooding is devastating the country. More than 500,000 people have been affected in 17 of the country’s 18 states.

Continue Reading 472 words
China’s Surprise Commitment to Be Carbon Neutral by 2060

China’s Surprise Commitment to Be Carbon Neutral by 2060

Yesterday at the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to achieve “carbon neutrality before 2060” with the aim of hitting peak emissions before 2030. China had choice words for the Trump administration and its complete lack of international leadership on climate change action. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang […]

Continue Reading 445 words
The Wealthiest 1% Create Twice the CO2 Emissions of the Poorest 50%

The Wealthiest 1% Create Twice the CO2 Emissions of the Poorest 50%

The world’s richest one percent cause more than double the CO2 of the poorest 50% according to a new study from Oxfam. From 1990 to 2015, CO2 emissions rose by 60%; experts saw the wealthiest one percent’s emissions rise three times more than those of the poorest half during that period.

 Why this matters: While the wealthiest indulge in luxuries that contribute more to climate change, a federal report found that the poor will be among the earliest victims of climate crises and will be impacted the most.

Continue Reading 469 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.