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Senator Baldwin Leads Climate Crisis Committee Hearing on Building Community Resilience in the Face of Extreme Weather from Climate Change

Senate Democrats heard from experts, local officials on need to take action now to help communities rebuild after severe weather

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) led a hearing of the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis entitled, “Better, Stronger, Smarter: Building Community Resilience in a Future of Extremes.” The special committee heard from local officials and national experts on how we can take action now to help communities rebuild after severe weather to be more resilient and better withstand future disasters.

climate hearing final

“Many communities in Wisconsin are focused on building back stronger and more resilient because they know and live the reality of a changing climate every day, and they know the enormous local costs to taxpayers,” said Senator Baldwin during the hearing. “Climate change is certainly a big, global problem. But it is also, just as importantly, a local reality. We need to partner with our communities, counties and states to do more.”

Natural disasters associated with climate change are already increasing costs for local governments, particularly for rebuilding infrastructure. Repeated rebuilding is not financially sustainable, so designing and building infrastructure to withstand the next storm is essential as severe weather becomes more frequent and more intense. Communities must have resources and guidance to make proactive investments in their resilience and rebuild more effectively.

Among the experts and local officials who provided testimony to the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, Mayor Tim Kabat of La Crosse, Wisconsin spoke to the costs associated with having to rebuild again and again after severe storms.

“La Crosse is like other river communities as we have learned to live, work and play in the Mississippi River and its watershed. We are also like other communities in that we are experiencing significant challenges because of our changing climate and weather patterns,” said Mayor Kabat in his opening remarks. “We need stronger partnerships with our federal agencies and greater flexibility in how resources are implemented on the ground.”

Earlier this year in La Crosse, Senator Baldwin, Mayor Kabat and other local officials met to discuss the need to invest in resilient infrastructure and flood mitigation so that communities are better equipped to withstand extreme weather events—including flooding in La Crosse.

Senator Baldwin has introduced bipartisan legislation that would help states rebuild stronger roads, highways and bridges as they recover from natural disasters by incorporating resiliency improvements into their emergency relief projects. The Rebuilding Stronger Infrastructure Act is included in the surface transportation reauthorization bill that passed out of committee in July.