Washington, D.C. — Today, the Biden administration launched a vital initiative to respond to increasing, dangerous instances of extreme heat, the most deadly current impact of a climate crisis that also fuels sea level rise, stronger storms, and raging floods. This initiative brings together the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Agriculture, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to create protections for communities and indoor and outdoor workers who may be exposed to harmful temperatures during the course of their day. In response, Center for American Progress senior fellows Cathleen Kelly and Mike Williams released the following statements.
CAP Senior Fellow Cathleen Kelly:
The single most deadly consequence of unchecked climate change is more intense and prolonged heat waves, which threaten the health and safety of communities and workers. While extreme heat may be here to stay until carbon pollution in the atmosphere is reduced below safe levels, immediate action to address the worst of its impacts cannot wait. The initiatives announced today by the Biden administration will allow more flexible funding under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to reduce extreme heat threats for at-risk households, as well as support the creation of neighborhood cooling centers within existing public school facilities and targeted solutions for disadvantaged communities, among other important changes. These policies are a crucial step toward addressing the devastating public health and economic impacts of extreme heat—impacts that fall disproportionately on communities of color as well as other disadvantaged and historically low-income communities.
CAP Senior Fellow Mike Williams:
Once again, the Biden administration has shown that it has workers’ backs. Today’s announcement acknowledges the workers bearing the brunt of rising temperatures and gives agencies the tools they need to protect public health from the unique challenges of the climate crisis. As heat waves become increasingly common and powerful, the development of a workplace heat standard will save lives on the job. These stopgap measures highlight the importance of urgent congressional action to pass a Build Back Better Act with strong labor standards to empower working people and strengthen unions.
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