Senators urge sub base to prepare for impacts of climate change

New London Day

Connecticut's Democratic senators are calling on the new commanding officer of the Naval Submarine Base, Capt. Todd Moore, to prioritize readying the base against potential impacts of climate change.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy said in a letter to Moore that they are collecting information on how Connecticut's military installations and defense industry are addressing climate change and what they are doing to reduce their energy footprint. They encouraged Moore "to consider making climate readiness a key component of your tenure."

Moore said Wednesday that his staff is working on a response to the letter, and that it is an issue he, and base officials, will continue to monitor.

"The submarine base over the past decade or so has taken the possibility of climate change and its impact into consideration," Moore said. "Certainly, with the construction of our port operations center down on the waterfront, construction of piers in the last decade, we've taken into account the 100-year flood plain to make sure these facilities could operate under adverse circumstances in the future."

The Pentagon has identified climate change as a threat to its operations and installations since 2010. Earlier this year, the Pentagon released a report, per Congress' request, assessing significant vulnerabilities at its installations from climate-related events.

"In addition to physical threats from flooding, drought, desertification, wildfires, and thawing permafrost, the report notes that the changing climate may impact DOD's operations by acting as a threat multiplier," Blumenthal and Murphy said in their letter to Moore.

While the sub base was not identified in the report as an "at-risk" installation, as average global temperatures rise, the base "may be called upon to support DOD operations related to climate-linked events — like disaster relief and climate-fueled conflicts — and must be prepared for any scenario," the senators wrote.

A report from the Government Accountability Office released this week found that the Pentagon has not properly assessed the risk of extreme weather and climate change, "relying on past experience rather than an analysis of future vulnerabilities based on climate projections."

The defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2020 passed by the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday would require military installations to develop master plans to assess those vulnerabilities and would require all proposals for military construction projects to consider long-term changes in environmental conditions, among other requirements.