Why Did the U.S. House Pass An Amendment Barring the Pentagon From Investigating Climate Change?

No, that’s not a typo. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill was brought by Republican Representative David McKinley of West Virginia. It prevents the Department of Defense from spending any of its funding to assess the risks of climate and its implications on national defense.

Here’s how the amendment reads:

“None of the funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to implement the U.S. Global Change Research Program National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, the United Nation’s Agenda 21 sustainable development plan, or the May 2013 Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order 12866.”

Rep. David McKinley

McKinley, who has had a significant portion of his political campaigns financed by the oil and mining industries, wrote the following in a memo to his colleagues in the House:

“This amendment will prohibit the costs of the President’s climate change policies being forced on the Department of Defense by the Obama Administration… The climate is obviously changing; it has always been changing. With all the unrest around the [world], why should Congress divert funds from the mission of our military and national security to support a political ideology?”

Just last year though, the Department of Defense published an evaluation of climate change in which they stated that climate change has adverse effects on infrastructure here in the U.S. and called the impacts of climate change abroad “threat multipliers”, because of their potential to exacerbate issues such as,

“poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in 2012: “The area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security” (Photo: DOD/Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

Furthermore, this issue is not as politically-charged as McKinley would have you think. During the second Bush administration, Congress ordered a National Intelligence Assessment of climate change, which concluded that it was a serious threat to national security.

Even Tom Ridge, who served as Secretary of Homeland Security under Bush, admitted this week that climate change is, “a real serious problem,” saying that it would, “bring destruction and economic damage”.

Read more from the Huffington Post here.

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