The funding is much needed, as communities across the United States have been devastated recently by extreme weather events caused by human-driven pollution, including the recent Maui wildfires, heat waves, tropical storms, floods, and many more such climate disasters.
The money will come from the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that was signed into law in 2021, and it will be distributed through two grant programs managed by FEMA. The bill was touted by Axios at the time as being “the biggest public-works bill since former President Eisenhower created the interstate highway system in 1956.”
Now, government officials have determined that there is a pressing need to focus those infrastructure works on projects that make communities more resilient to the effects of the extreme weather events caused in large part by burning dirty energy sources such as gas and oil.
“From Hawaiʻi to Maine, communities across the country are experiencing more frequent and intense severe weather events, resulting in devastating impacts to their homes, businesses and families. Though FEMA will always help communities respond to and recover from these disasters, it is also paramount to build resilience before disasters strike,” FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell said in a statement.
Of the total funding, $1.8 billion will be allocated for “critical resilience projects,” while another $642 million will go toward community flood mitigation projects.
“By investing today in strengthening our critical infrastructure, particularly for the most marginalized and vulnerable communities, President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is going to keep Americans and their communities safer and more resilient,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in a statement.
The increased FEMA funding allows the agency to attempt to prepare communities for impending climate disasters. However, the agency’s disaster relief fund, which is separate from the grants, is in danger of falling into a deficit if Congress and the Biden administration fail to pass a new funding bill or a continuing resolution.
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