Mrs. CAPPS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call attention to the looming crisis of climate change. The effects of climate change are diverse, but they all impact American lives and livelihoods, and we are realizing and witnessing these occurrences in real-time.
Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy, severe drought, and major flooding are becoming more frequent and growing more intense. Sandy alone caused at least $50 billion in damages, killed dozens of Americans, and upended the lives of millions more. But Sandy was only one of 11 separate billion-dollar extreme weather events last year.
And not only are things getting worse each time, but these events are occurring more frequently now than they were even a decade ago. And of course, the cost of all these catastrophes--cost which is borne by the taxpayer--is also escalating.
One of the first actions of this Congress was to enact over $60 billion in emergency aid for all those impacted by Sandy. Who knows how much the next catastrophe will cost?
Mr. Speaker, we cannot afford to sit back and wait for the next Hurricane Sandy to devastate American lives and property. Especially in these tight economic times, I think we can all agree that reducing the cost of extreme weather events is a good idea. And one of the most effective ways to reduce these costs is to plan ahead. Regardless of what you think about its causes, extreme weather is happening, and because we cannot guarantee that these events will not happen in the future, we can and we must do more to prepare. Imagine the lives, infrastructure, homes, and businesses that could have been saved if we'd better anticipated and prepared for the impacts of these events before they occurred.
By smarter planning and building more resilient infrastructure, we can reduce storm damages, we can lessen economic impacts, and we can save lives. And these mitigation and adaptation measures also create good quality American jobs that can help to grow our economy for the future. It's a win-win that we should all support.
That's why last month I reintroduced two bills that would help our local communities implement these cost-saving measures. One is the Coastal States Climate Change Planning Act, which would provide help for coastal States who wish to carry out adaptation projects in order to prepare for the impacts of climate change. Another bill is the Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act, supporting States wishing to update their aging storm, waste, and drinking water systems in order to adapt for climate change. These bills would help our local communities to plan and prepare for the impacts of climate change and increased extreme weather. Our communities deserve protections from these potentially devastating events and we have a responsibility to help.
Mr. Speaker, we have a choice. We can continue to spend tens of billions of dollars annually on emergency aid packages that will only grow in size and quantity, or we can spend a fraction of that on planning smarter and building more resilient infrastructure that creates jobs and strengthens our economy for years to come.
I think the choice is clear. Let's choose to protect our coastlines and to fortify our infrastructure. Let's choose to create good American jobs and strengthen our economy. Let's choose to plan ahead to protect lives, to protect property, and the Federal Government itself from the impacts of extreme weather.
I urge my colleagues to join me in taking action on this critical issue and to help our communities to prepare for the impacts of climate change.