Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico's Third District and a member of the Safe Climate Caucus spoke on the House floor this morning about the need to address climate change and the impact it is having on drought conditions in the West. The Safe Climate Caucus is a group of Democratic members who are highlighting the need for action on climate change through daily floor speeches and other activities.
"Mr. Speaker, as we come to the House floor this morning, many communities across the West suffer from severe wildfires and they are having a more devastating impact due to extreme drought conditions this year. In my home state of New Mexico, firefighters have bravely worked to battle a number of blazes, and I extend my sincerest thanks for their tireless efforts.
"With global climate change contributing to drier and hotter summers and more intense fire seasons, it is critical that we take steps to address the root causes of climate change before it gets too late. And while we should focus on the steps we must take to reduce greenhouse gasses and encourage energy conservation, we must also ensure that we are preparing for the drought conditions that will continue to impact our communities in the years to come.
"The National Integrated Drought Information System is an important tool in this effort. This program collects and consolidates drought-related data and information. It operates regional drought early warning system pilot projects across the country.
"Authorization for this program is currently scheduled to end this year. That is why I am working in a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System for another four years. This will enable the federal government to further develop regional drought early warning systems and identify research, monitoring, and forecasting needs that can help farmers and firefighters alike.
"Because whether its growing crops and raising livestock, or battling wildfires in the West, drought conditions in the coming years will continue to pose challenges for our communities, and we will need to do all we can to assist those whose lives and livelihoods are impacted by climate change."