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Rep. Heck’s Climate Security Initiative Included in Defense Authorization Package

Dec 10, 2019
Press Release
Legislation will empower the intelligence community to combat climate-based security threats

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, congressional leaders prepared the defense authorization package for passage, which includes a section drawn from Congressman Denny Heck’s (D-WA) climate security legislation. Section 5321 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA) would establish a Climate Security Advisory Council to help the intelligence community analyze climate-based security threats.

“The intelligence community has stated loudly and clearly that climate hazards pose a real danger to stability and security across the globe,” said Heck. “It is past time that Congress recognize these threats and equip the intelligence community with the tools necessary to study and prepare for climate-related security challenges. Incorporating parts of my climate security legislation into the defense authorization package is a strong first step, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to build a long-term response to the climate security challenges we face.”

On June 5, Congressman Heck introduced the Climate Security Intelligence Act in the U.S. House, which was largely repurposed into Division E, Section 5321 of the NDAA.  Section 5321 directs the Director of National Intelligence to establish a Climate Security Advisory Council for the purposes of assisting with analysis of climate security and its impacts, facilitating the flow of climate data between intelligence agencies and non-intelligence agencies studying climate change, and ensuring that the intelligence community is prioritizing climate change in carrying out its activities.

Division E of the NDAA contains the Damon Paul Nelson and Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018, 2019, and 2020 (IAA). In July, the IAA, including Heck’s climate security initiative, passed the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence by unanimous consent. Shortly after, the IAA passed the House by a vote of 397-31.

The 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community delivered to Congress by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats listed climate change as a major threat to national security, stating, “Climate hazards such as extreme weather, higher temperatures, droughts, floods, wildfires, storms, sea level rise, soil degradation, and acidifying oceans are intensifying, threatening infrastructure, health, and water and food security.”

Congressman Heck is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and co-chair of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus.