Crow Introduces Duo of Defense Bills to Protect Military Bases Against Climate Threats Brought on by Water Scarcity and Energy Dependency

June 15, 2020
Press Release

Today Rep. Jason Crow (CO-06) introduced a duo of bipartisan defense bills, the DOD Water Assessment and Testing Enhanced Reporting (WATER) Act and the Guaranteeing Resilient Installations for Defense (GRID) Act, to protect and strengthen military bases from threats brought on by climate change and energy dependency. The DOD WATER Act would require improvements to water scarcity reports to ensure a recurring, comprehensive water scarcity analysis while the GRID Act would launch a pilot program to address vulnerabilities to electric grids that power critical military installations rely on. 

The DOD WATER Act introduced by Representatives Jason Crow Crow (D-CO-06), Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM-02) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO-05), addresses the issue of water scarcity, a risk identified for Buckley Air Force Base in Crow’s district. Following conflicting reports from the Department of Defense on the impact of water scarcity on military bases due to warming temperatures, Crow’s bill would require the Secretary of Defense to improve data collection and create a recurring water scarcity assessment. 

“Climate change is the national security threat of the 21st century. It not only increases all of the threats we face but makes it harder to conduct military operations to meet those threats. These bills will help us address those threats. Already, Colorado has seen how water scarcity and extreme weather can cause damage to our bases and threaten our electrical grids. Climate security is directly tied together with our national security and I’m proud to be introducing these bipartisan bills to address the risks to our military bases," said Crow.

“Few places have experienced water scarcity like New Mexico. I’ve worked with our bases and local communities to best position Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) to tackle the present and future threats to our national security—we must also make sure they have the water they need to carry out those missions,” said Torres Small. “Our national security depends on our ability to adapt in the face of climate change and a dwindling supply of water. By requiring common, science-based water assessment practices, we can equip DoD with the data necessary to move forward with smart investments in water management and preparedness.”

“Out West, we know how important it is to manage our water prudently. The Colorado Springs community and our five local military installations have a wonderful and mutually supportive relationship, including cooperation on water resource management. This bill will update how we evaluate and address water scarcity issues around defense installations, moving towards a more uniformed approach from the Department. I am excited to cosponsor this legislation, which will further strengthen the relationship between our community and local bases on this important issue,” said Lamborn.

With military bases across the country dependent on civilian electrical grids for energy, including Buckley Air Force Base, the GRID Act introduced by Representatives Crow, Don Bacon (R-NE-02), and Scott Peters (D-CA-25) works to address threats to the electric grid from nature, terrorism, or cyberattacks by creating a two-year pilot program between the Department of Energy and Department of Defense to implement solutions for infrastructure vulnerabilities. The bill also expands the authority of the Department of Energy to identify, designate, and mitigate vulnerabilities at critical defense facilities.

Energy security is not only vital to our economy but is also fundamental to military readiness,” said Bacon. “This continues to be a priority concern for me and I am grateful to join Representative Crow on this legislation which will improve the resiliency of our critical defense electrical infrastructure.”

“When an electric grid goes down, it doesn’t just shut off the lights, it puts our cyber-security and military’s ability to safeguard our country at risk,” Peters said. “The GRID Act would invest in ways to protect critical defense grid systems, so military operations can continue without disruption. A more resilient and reliable electric grid will reduce outages as well as increase safety for the American people and our warfighters.”

Both bills represent some of the national security priorities Crow is advocating for in the annual National Defense Authorization Act. 

The bills build on Crow’s work addressing the impact of climate change on U.S. national security.  Last year, Crow’s bill, the Military Installation Resilience Assuredness (MIRA) Act was enacted into the law. The bill improves the security and resilience of military installations by requiring bases to study the impact of climate change on military readiness. In recent years, extreme weather events brought on by global warming have resulted in billions of dollars spent on base repairs, such as $3.6 billion for Camp Lejeune following Hurricane Florence. In 2019, Crow also launched the Sustainable Power Initiative to bring together military, economic, defense, energy, and environmental leaders to discuss how to improve energy efficiency and environmental resiliency at the Department of Defense, the largest consumer of energy in the world.