Peters Convenes Field Summit Highlighting the Rising Costs of Climate Change to Taxpayers

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today hosted a field summit examining the rising costs to taxpayers from extreme weather and climate change. The summit, titled “The Cost of Inaction: The Impacts of Climate Change and the Financial Burden on Taxpayers,” focused on the financial impacts of climate change on our national security, infrastructure, economy and public health. At the summit, Peters also released a new report highlighting that swift action is needed to protect the environment and relieve taxpayers of the financial burden posed by the growing effects of climate change in Michigan and across the country.

“As the driving force behind increasingly severe weather events, climate change is a key contributor to extreme flooding, wind damage and other destruction that is wreaking havoc on our communities and costing us billions of dollars in damage,” said Senator Peters in his opening statement. “Catastrophic weather events have cost the federal government, and in turn the American taxpayer, roughly half a trillion dollars in disaster assistance alone.”

“Communities across Michigan have seen the impact of these extreme weather events, and felt the heavy financial burden these storms yield,” Senator Peters continued. “Unless we quickly take bold steps to address climate change, we will not be able to turn back the clock on the damage done to our planet, and American taxpayers will be on the hook for billions of dollars in cleanup costs in the years and decades to come.”

Video of Senator Peters’ opening remarks is available here, and the full text of his remarks as prepared for delivery can be found here.

Peters convened the summit following a recent Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) High Risk List report, which identified the government’s lack of preparedness for the effects of climate change as a key source of financial vulnerability for taxpayers.

Peters also released a Committee minority staff report that identifies the steep costs to taxpayers if the federal government fails to act on climate change, which are amplified by the Trump Administration’s threats to cut federal funding to address the impacts of climate change. Peters’ report found that the government must invest in efforts to prevent damage from climate change to save taxpayers billions of dollars in the coming years.

READ THE FULL REPORT: “The Cost of Inaction: Failure to Address Financial Costs of Climate Change Will Hurt Taxpayers”

The report’s key findings include:

  • Since 2005, taxpayers have spent nearly half a trillion dollars in disaster assistance following catastrophic hurricanes, flooding, wildfires and other disasters.
  • The Trump Administration has proposed more than $9 billion in cuts to critical federal research, programs and offices that address the challenges posed by climate change.
  • Midwest states like Michigan are particularly vulnerable to climate-induced extreme precipitation and flooding that is projected to cause as much as $6 billion annually in severe damage to roads and bridges by 2090.
  • Early investments in climate change adaptation, mitigation, and resiliency strategies will save taxpayer dollars in the long run. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), for every $1 invested in federal mitigation grants, taxpayers can save $6.