Dire climate change report has environmental activists targeting Rep. Luria in battle for resiliency, infrastructure funds

Virginia Politics

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Representatives from faith groups, national security experts and climate scientists are appealing to U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk) to fight for money for the region and local military bases to stem the tide of climate change.

This comes on the heels of a new report released earlier this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning of a more accelerated rate of global warming, that the secretary general of the United Nations called a “code red for humanity.”

Luria, a veteran U.S. Navy commander and vice-chair of the House Armed Services Committee, says she is already engaged in the battle.

Kendyl Crawford, co-director of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, says more frequent and intense heat, storms and coastal flooding will have a disproportionate effect on the vulnerable, the poor, and people of color.

“Now is the time for Congresswoman Luria to take up the banner and have the moral courage to lead the march toward justice, to make the big bold investments that we need to tackle this unprecedented challenge,” she said.

Luria responded with this statement about her efforts to mitigate the climate change crisis:

“Whether it’s securing funding for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, ensuring Nuclear Power is at the forefront of our clean energy future, or investing in resiliency measures for our military installations here in Hampton Roads, combatting the effects of sea level rise and climate change is a top priority. Our changing climate impacts every facet of public policy and the IPCC report sounded the alarm that the status quo cannot continue.

“Earlier this month, I welcomed White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy to the Port of Virginia for a roundtable discussion on investing in coastal resiliency and protecting families, businesses, and our military installations from the threat of climate change. We discussed the impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the bipartisan infrastructure bill which recently passed the U.S. Senate. Virginia will receive $1.2 billion over five years to modernize public transit to reduce emissions, $106 million to build a network of electric vehicle charging stations across the Commonwealth, $738 million to make our drinking water cleaner by removing lead pipes, and $238 million to help clean up Chesapeake Bay. These are generational investments in clean technology and climate mitigation infrastructure that will protect Hampton Roads from the impact of climate change while creating hundreds of well-paying jobs.”

The infrastructure bill is now in the House where some Democrats say even with its trillion-dollar price tag, it doesn’t go far enough.

A national security expert says Naval Station Norfolk and the City of Norfolk are taking climate change seriously, but he’s hoping Luria and the rest of Congress will come through with the money that’s needed.

“There’s been a lot of that collaboration, but the funding must be there, too,” said David Haines of the American Security Project. “A base in an unresilient community is not a resilient base, just like a community that’s got an unresilient base in its midst is not a resilient community.”

Meanwhile, climate scientists say the urgency is greater in Hampton Roads because we have the combined effects of rising waters and sinking land.

“[The rate of sea level rise] exceeds that of the global average and is rising faster, which basically means you could see effects a little quicker than you would see in other places,” said Tom DiLiberto, a meteorologist and climate scientist affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

NOAA is a governmental agency that provides data, tools, and information to help people understand and prepare for climate variability and change, according to its website.

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