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Cartwright and Cole Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Enhance Government Preparedness for Extreme Weather Incidents

Aug 1, 2014
Press Release

Cartwright and Cole Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Enhance Government Preparedness for Extreme Weather Incidents

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-17) held a press conference call announcing the introduction of the bipartisan Preparedness and Risk Management for Extreme Weather Patterns Assuring Resilience (PREPARE) Act, legislation introduced with U.S. Representative Tom Cole (R-OK-4).  This commonsense legislation would enhance the federal government’s capability to plan and prepare for the risks associated with extreme weather incidents without any cost to American taxpayers.   

“In my district, Hurricane Sandy swept through the Lehigh Valley two years ago leaving nearly 300,000 people without power in Lehigh and Northampton counties. Meanwhile, severe flooding remains a very real concern for northeastern Pennsylvania as multiple waterways including the Susquehanna, Lackawanna, and Schuylkill Rivers threaten communities like Wilkes-Barre and Scranton,” said Rep. Cartwright.  “Addressing the threat of extreme weather requires a national approach.  My zero-cost bill compels the federal government to form a comprehensive plan to prepare for the grave threat posed by extreme weather events.  I look forward to working with Congressman Tom Cole to address this issue.”

“The threat of severe weather is always very real in Oklahoma,” said Rep. Cole.  “But last year’s storms in my district were a painful reminder of the heartbreaking devastation that tornadoes can cause and the desperate need for communities to prepare. Whether faced with tornadoes, wild fires, earthquakes or hurricanes, I am very pleased that this legislation helps define the scope of federal assistance in the wake of natural disasters.”

In the last two years, there have been 20 extreme weather events that have each inflicted at least $1 billion in damage and resulted in a total loss of 409 lives.  The Government Accountability Office (GAO), in recognition of the threats posed by extreme weather, listed the threat on its 2013 High Risk List, which provides an overview of the most pressing fiscal exposures faced by the federal government.  The federal government has not adequately crafted a strategic, government-wide approach to prepare for the threats posed by extreme weather events. 

While recently the administration has made progress in its preparedness, this bill will bolster these efforts and ensure they continue into the future.  The PREPARE Act would require the establishment of a federal interagency council whose purpose would be to provide recommendations on the best means of planning and preparing for extreme weather incidents.  Additionally, the bill would provide state and local stakeholders with the best information and practices available to help them formulate emergency preparation plans tailored to their needs.

A broad group of 32 business and environmental organizations have endorsed the legislation including R Street, American Sustainable Business Council, Reinsurance Association of America, National Wildlife Federation, CERES, National Housing Conference, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Parks Conservation Association, The Nature Conservancy, Evangelical Environmental Network, League of Conservation Voters, American Meteorological Society, Sierra Club, PennFuture, Defenders of Wildlife, Union of Concerned Scientists,  U.S. Green Building Council, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, American Rivers, Environmental Defense Fund, Small Business Majority, Marstel-Day, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, Alaska Wilderness League, International Code Council, American Bird Conservancy, National Farmers Union, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, National Leased Housing Association, UPS, and the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association.