Press Releases

Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen U.S. Infrastructure Against Climate Change Risks

Washington, February 27, 2020 | Rocio Cruz

(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), along with Congressmen Matt Cartwright (PA-08), Matt Gaetz (FL-01), and Don Bacon (NE-02), announced bipartisan legislation, the Built to Last Act, to bolster America’s infrastructure and systems against the risks of climate change. 

Damage from climate change-related disasters cost the federal government at least$91 billion in 2018 alone, and these costs are expected to rise in the years ahead.  Texas is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  The Texas General Land Office found that in the last fourteen years, every coastal county in Texas received at least one hurricane disaster declaration.  In 2017, Hurricane Harvey left an estimated $125 billion of damage in its wake.  The Built to Last Act will help increase the resiliency of the country’s infrastructure systems to better withstand climate change.

“Climate change threatens to alter the weather patterns across our country, bringing stronger storms to our communities.  Our building standards and infrastructure need to reflect this new reality,” said Congresswoman Fletcher. “That’s why I’m proud to join Congressman Cartwright to introduce the bipartisan Built to Last Act.  This bill willensure that business and communities have the data to account for the impacts of climate change, which will help improve the resiliency of our infrastructure.” 

“The effects of climate change have already cost American taxpayers billions, and the threats are only growing,” said Congressman Cartwright. “If we are going to be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead, we need to have the best data available and we need to use that data effectively. This bipartisan bill will equip Standard Setting Organizations with the right tools and information to help us better protect our homes, businesses, and economy against the risks of climate change.”

The Built to Last Act would direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to make climate change data available to standards-developing organizations (SDOs).  A recent report by the Government Accountability Office found that most SDOs, which set infrastructure standards, only look at historic data, but do not use climate change information.  This bill would help make sure that forward-looking meteorological information is used in standard-setting, which informs how building codes and design standards are implemented across the country.

To help address the impacts of climate change, the Built to Last Act will do the following:

  • Direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to coordinate with the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group (MitFLG) to convene a working group of relevant federal agencies to identify a set of authoritative climate information;
  • Require the NIST to disseminate pertinent information and data to SDOs. SDOs set building codes, test methods, voluntary certifications, and other standards to ensure that work is performed and products are safely developed to high levels of quality; and 
  • Direct the NIST to provide technical assistance to SDOs and federal agencies that are incorporating the information into their standards frameworks.

This legislation is also cosponsored by Representatives Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Dan Lipinski (IL-03), Stephen Lynch (MA-08) and Darren Soto (FL-09).