Shaheen Joins Menendez On Legislation to Thwart Trump Admin Efforts to Twist Climate Change Science and Eliminate its Utility for National Security Planning

March 12, 2019

(Washington, DC) – In response to President Trump’s recent efforts to undermine the prudent use of climate change data and forecasting in national security planning and analysis, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined Senate Foreign Relations Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and a group of Democratic Senators, including all fellow Democratic Senate Foreign Relations Committee members, to introduce legislation to ensure that misguided political ideology on climate change does not compromise the quality of U.S. intelligence and national security strategies.

The introduction of The Climate Security Act of 2019 follows recent reports that National Security Council Senior Director, William Happer, an outspoken climate-change denier, is working on an Executive Order for the Trump Administration to “reassess” the threat of climate change and contradict the current consensus within the national intelligence community.

The Climate Security Act of 2019 was also cosponsored by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Brian Schatz (D-HI). 

“President Trump has halted efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change and continues to deny scientific evidence that underscores the severity of this issue. It’s now on Congress to step in and respond to the stark warnings from our scientists and national security experts and take meaningful action to combat the effects of climate change,” said Shaheen. “This isn’t a matter of opinion or ideology – this is science. Climate change is real and it poses very serious threats to our national security, from leaving our military facilities vulnerable to extreme weather disasters to the impact on humanitarian crises around the globe. Ignoring the facts will put Americans in danger, at home and abroad.” 

Just last week, more than 50 former senior military and national security officials  security officials, including former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, penned a letter to the President emphasizing the need to include climate change in national security planning. The Climate Security Act of 2019 provides the statutory muscle necessary to address this need. 

For decades, and across both Democratic and Republican administrations, the integration of climate change data and forecasting has grown increasingly important and relevant to accurate national security planning and intelligence gathering. In 2014, the Department of Defense, in its Quadrennial Defense Review, labelled the effects of climate change as a “threat multiplier” that both creates technical challenges for military readiness and increases shocks and stresses in vulnerable countries currently in or on the verge of conflict. 

Key provisions of The Climate Security Act of 2019 include: 

  • Establishing a “Climate Security Envoy” within the State Department responsible for developing strategies for improving the integration of climate change science, data and forecasting in national security operations as well as facilitating interagency collaboration between the federal government’s science and security agencies.
  • Outlining policies for how climate change data and forecasting should inform national security planning and analysis, while calling for periodic global assessments on the risks climate change poses to national and global security.
  • Formally reestablishing the Special Envoy for the Arctic. The Arctic region is undergoing rapid and dramatic changes due to climate change, which in turn is creating new security challenges, driven by aggressive expansion of Russian influence and naval activity in the region that requires specials attention from the State Department in the form of this Special Envoy. President Trump dismantled the Special Envoy to the Arctic’s office in 2017.