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The burned remains of the Greenville Library destroyed by the Dixie Fire in Greenville, California, U.S., on Aug. 6, 2021. (Maranie Staab/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Biden administration is moving to direct $1.2 billion toward programs that encourage communities to build resilient infrastructure, and an additional $160 million for flood mitigation grant programs.

Why it matters: Making grant money more widely available, particularly to disadvantaged communities, could help reduce damage from increasingly severe storms in the future. A landmark U.N. climate report released Monday finds that extreme weather events are rapidly becoming more frequent and severe due to human-caused global warming.

Details: The $1.2 billion for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program in particular provides money to states, communities, tribes and territories to take actions that would make them better able to withstand future extreme weather events.  

  • “It is critical that as we work to address climate change, we are doing so in a way that ensures equity in the delivery of our programs,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said in a statement.
  • “By altering the criteria for the FMA and BRIC Programs, we aim to reach more underserved and at-risk communities, which are often disproportionately impacted by climate change, and provide them with the necessary means to make them more resilient for the next disaster," she said.

Context: The announcements of application periods for both programs follows last week's announcement of $3.5 billion, or the largest single-year contribution, to the post-disaster Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

  • This means that a total of nearly $5 billion in new funding is being made available to help communities prepare for extreme weather and climate events.

How it works: FEMA is touting steps it is taking to improve the equitable distribution of funds, in accordance with the administration's focus on environmental justice.

  • According to an agency fact sheet, FEMA altered BRIC's project selection criteria to "enable a significantly higher proportion of benefits for those most in need of investment in climate resiliency."
  • The administration is adjusting scoring criteria used to determine who gets funding so that it considers climate change projections and economically disadvantaged and rural communities.
  • The fact sheet states that FEMA has doubled the number of counties that can receive project development assistance to 20.
  • The flood mitigation program will also incorporate an environmental justice component, specifically the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index as a selection factor in its competitive scoring process. "This means underserved populations will receive more points for projects that benefit their communities," the agency fact sheet states.

What they're saying: "This funding will also help to ensure the advancement of equity in all communities, especially those that are disproportionately at risk from climate change impacts,” said homeland security secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas in a statement.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 15, 2021 - Energy & Environment

White House vows to treat climate change as "systemic" financial risk

Zailey Segura, Zavery Segura and their mother Karen Smith wade through flood waters while walking to the childrens fathers house after Hurricane Nicholas landed in Galveston, Texas on September 14, 2021. Photo: Mark Felix for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A new White House report released Friday morning says climate change poses "systemic risks" to the U.S. financial system, and presents a "roadmap" to building a "climate-resilient" economy.

Why it matters: Top aides emphasized that framing to promote wide-ranging moves that will weave climate risk into many agencies' new policies and regulations.

Oct 12, 2021 - Science

Weather and climate disasters have cost the U.S. over $100 billion in 2021

Piles of debris is all that's left of a restaurant after heavy rain from remnants of Hurricane Ida came through in Manville, New Jersey, on Sept. 7. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Weather and climate disasters in 2021 have killed 538 people in the U.S. and cost over $100 billion, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Why it matters: The first nine months of 2021 saw the largest number of billion-dollar disasters in a calendar year so far, with 2021 on pace for second behind 2020, per the report.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.

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