Last week, climate security legislation introduced by Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10) passed the U.S. House after its inclusion in the Damon Paul Nelson and Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018, 2019, and 2020 (IAA) as Section 401 of the Act.
Section 401 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.
“The intelligence community has been telling us for some time that climate change poses a significant threat to the national security of the United States,” said Heck. “It’s time we give this threat the attention it deserves by giving U.S. intelligence agencies the tools necessary to analyze climate change and its many impacts on national security.
“This isn’t some abstract problem that we have the luxury of ignoring. Shipyards are flooding. Trade routes are shifting. In some regions, food and water are predicted to become scarce, driving mass migrations. Climate change is altering the mission of our armed forces and reshaping the geostrategic landscape in which our military, intelligence, and diplomatic personnel operate. While we ought to do everything we can to mitigate the impacts of climate change, we also need to be prepared for all the climate-driven challenges we may face.”
On Wednesday an amendment (H.Amdt. 571) to strike Section 401 from the IAA failed on the House floor by a vote of 178-255, with 19 Republicans joining Democrats to defeat the amendment and keep Section 401 in the bill. The House then voted overwhelmingly to pass the entire IAA by a vote of 397-31.
Prior to the IAA’s consideration on the House floor, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (House Intelligence Committee) voted to pass the bill, including Section 401, by unanimous consent.
On June 5, Congressman Heck introduced the Climate Security Intelligence Act in the U.S. House, which was largely repurposed into Section 401 of the IAA.
Also on June 5, the House Intelligence Committee heard testimony from intelligence officials, including Dr. Rod Schoonover, who at the time worked as an analyst with the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. In his testimony, Dr. Schoonover said, “One of the things that would help the intelligence community in its analysis is assistance in breaking down some of the silos in the U.S. Government. We would love, from a scientific standpoint, to be able to better access the data and findings and analysis from our partner U.S. Government agencies like Department of Energy and NASA and NOAA and the U.S. Global Change Research Program.”
Congressman Heck is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and co-chairs the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus.