Vice President Kamala Harris, who is visiting Florida to talk about climate change, announced on Friday that $562 million will be invested in 149 projects across the nation to increase resilience to dangers like rising seas and the kinds of coastal flooding that recently devastated the southeast region of the state.
At the University of Miami, Harris spoke about the funding strategy while simultaneously giving a tour of a lab working on coral regeneration and a hurricane simulator that can produce gusts of up to 157 mph in Category 5.
The projects, which are distributed across 30 states, are an example of how climate investments encourage job development and manufacturing while addressing a significant environmental concern, according to Harris, who spoke in March at a climate summit in Miami Beach.
The tweet below confirms the news:
#NEWS: @VP announces @CommerceGov has recommended $562M in funding for nearly 150 projects across 30 coastal states & territories as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America agenda. https://t.co/n6tYu1AS8D pic.twitter.com/mSs7Q3RYNS
— U.S. Commerce Dept. (@CommerceGov) April 21, 2023
During her visit to Miami, Harris tweeted, “When we invest in climate, we not only protect our environment, but we also strengthen our economy.”
The money is a part of the program the Biden administration refers to as “Climate-Ready Coasts.” According to a White House news release, of the $562 million total, around $477 million will be used to improve how towns and cities respond to extreme weather events, restore wildlife habitats along the coast, and give marginalized regions more attention in addressing storm and climate concerns.
The state of Florida would receive around $78 million for a variety of initiatives, including the removal of 200,000 tires that were submerged in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico decades ago as artificial reefs and the restoration of oyster habitat in Pensacola Bay and flood protection in Jacksonville.
VP Harris Visits Miami to Address Climate Resilience and Environmental Justice
Harris visited the hurricane simulator at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Sciences, where scientists are also working to rebuild dying coral reefs, build aquaculture to replenish and protect fisheries, and study how to slow down ocean currents.
The vice president’s trip comes at a time when Fort Lauderdale and its suburbs are still cleaning up from a storm on April 12 that dumped up to 2 feet (0.6 meters) of rain, flooding homes and businesses, closing Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, disrupting gas distribution at Port Everglades, and causing a fuel shortage for vehicles for days across southern Florida.
According to climate experts, as temperatures rise, these once-rare intense rain events will happen more regularly, making the situation worse in coastal areas like Florida owing to sea level rise.
According to University of Oklahoma meteorology professor Jason Furtado, “These heavy rainfall events along with sea level rise on the Florida coast need to serve as significant ‘wake up calls’ for the residents of South Florida about the severe risks that climate change poses to them.”
On the same day that President Joe Biden signed an executive order establishing the White House Office of Environmental Justice, Harris made a brief trip to Miami. The aim is to prevent increased exposure to pollution and environmental harm as a result of poverty, race, or ethnicity.
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