June 21, 2023

Kilmer Applauds Historic Launch of $575 Million Coastal and Tribal Climate Resilience Challenge

Unprecedented Initiative to Drive Resilience and Climate Adaptation, Pioneering a Collaborative Approach for Underserved Coastal and Tribal Communities

TACOMA, WA Today, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) applauded the launch of the U.S. Department of Commerce's first Climate Resilience Regional Challenge. This initiative will allocate $575 million in funding to boost resilience to extreme weather and other climate crisis impacts in coastal, Great Lakes, and Tribal communities. The funding is part of President Biden’s Investing in America plan.

The Challenge is the initial and largest funding opportunity under the $2.6 billion Inflation Reduction Act's climate resilience framework, introduced by the Department of Commerce earlier this month. The unveiling of this challenge follows President Biden’s recent visit to East Palo Alto, California, where he witnessed the effects of climate change and emphasized the importance of funding for climate resilience in communities nationwide.

“Yesterday’s launch of the Climate Resilience Regional Challenge is a major milestone in safeguarding the future of our communities here in Washington state,” said Rep. Kilmer. “With this significant commitment, the federal government is recognizing the unique climate challenges that coastal communities, including Tribal communities, are wrestling with along our coast.  I’m also pleased to see that this program isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather a collaborative effort that acknowledges and respects the needs of communities from every region.”

“Through this first-ever regional approach to strengthening climate resilience, the Biden-Harris Administration is ensuring that communities across the country, especially underserved communities, have the resources they need to prepare for the growing impacts of the climate crisis,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “As part of President Biden's Investing in America agenda, the Climate Resilience Regional Challenge will help communities that share common challenges work together to develop innovative solutions while equipping them with essential resources to build a climate-ready future.”

“While every coastal community feels the effects of climate change, many lack the resources and infrastructure they need to become climate-ready,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “Thanks to President Biden’s commitment to bolstering climate resilience, we are helping more coastal communities move toward action on climate resiliency efforts, which is an important first step — and in areas where the groundwork is already laid, NOAA is ready to support communities in taking action. This multi-faceted approach allows us to meet people where they are and help regional resilience efforts move forward.”

“The Challenge provides an unprecedented opportunity to work hand-in-hand with communities to develop tailored solutions that reduce risk and address coastal climate-related hazards,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, director of the National Ocean Service. “This investment will help align resources at the federal, state, Tribal and regional levels, while emphasizing access for underserved communities — ensuring that all Americans benefit from this transformative approach to building resilience.”

The grant program has two distinct tracks. The first, Regional Collaborative Building and Strategy Development, will receive $25 million to lay the groundwork for future resilience efforts. The second, Implementation of Resilience and Adaptation Actions, will receive $550 million to execute transformational climate adaptation actions.

These grants aim to support coastal, Great Lakes, and Tribal communities, prioritizing those that are marginalized, underserved, or underrepresented. While these investments complement existing resilience efforts, the Climate Resilience Regional Challenge distinguishes itself by focusing on fostering long-term capacity within regional networks, using a holistic approach to climate resilience. With technical support from NOAA, this program will facilitate collaboration across regions to prepare coastal communities for climate change, reduce risks, and tackle vulnerabilities.

Across both competition tracks (Regional Collaborative Building and Strategy Development and Implementation of Resilience and Adaptation Actions), there are three program priorities:

  • Climate Risk Reduction.
  • Equity and Inclusion.
  • Enduring Capacity.

The Regional Collaborative Building and Strategy Development fund is designed to support the following activities, including help with:

  • Building and expanding regional partnerships.
  • Engaging and partnering with Tribes and marginalized, underserved, underrepresented communities.
  • Assessing risk and vulnerability.
  • Planning resilience strategies and adaptation actions.
  • Building community and workforce capacity for climate adaptation efforts.

The Implementation of Resilience and Adaptation Actions fund is designed to support regionally significant actions such as:

  • Acquiring vulnerable land.
  • Building natural infrastructure.
  • Improving public infrastructure’s resilience.
  • Strengthening or protecting public access to coastal natural resources.
  • Building regional capacity for ongoing actions that increase resilience.
  • Planning and preparing for community-led relocation.
  • Updating state and local codes and policies.

The initiative is part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, aiming to stimulate the American economy, promote private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments (over $470 billion), create good-paying jobs, and build a clean-energy economy to fight climate change and enhance community resilience.

Eligible applicants include state and local governments, Tribes and Tribal organizations, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher education.

For years, Rep. Kilmer has advocated for increased federal funding for Tribal relocation and resilience efforts. His Tribal Coastal Resiliency Act aims to provide federal resources to coastal Native American Tribes, allowing Tribal governments to directly compete for Coastal Zone Management Grant Program grants, instead of relying on state prioritization. This is important given the challenges faced by Tribes in implementing coastal measures for safety, access, and cultural preservation.

Coastal Tribes, including 17 in Washington state, are confronting flooding, tsunami threats, and coastal erosion due to changing landscapes and weather events.

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