Environment Subcommittee Examined Natural Disaster Recovery, Preparedness in the Wake of Climate Change

Jun 26, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (June 26, 2019)— This week, Rep. Harley Rouda, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, held a hearing on “Recovery, Resiliency and Readiness— “Contending with Natural Disasters in the Wake of Climate Change (Climate Change, Part III).”




  • Chairman Rouda announced in his opening statement that the Deputy Administrator of FEMA, Dr. Daniel Kaniewski, who was unable to testify in today’s hearing due to medical reasons, will be called to testify before the Subcommittee “as soon as he is able.”


  • Expert witness Dr. Michael Mann dismissed misinformation that climate change is not impacting the frequency and severity of natural disasters and James Lee Witt, the Former Director of FEMA, pressed the Trump Administration to reconsider their policy of not taking into account climate change in disaster relief planning.


  • Chairman Rouda, Subcommittee Members, and expert witnesses on disaster recovery in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands highlighted the still-dire state of the regions nearly twenty months after Hurricanes Maria and Irma. 


  • Local officials from Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands voiced concern over the bureaucratic hurdles in place that prevent communities from accessing recovery funds from FEMA. For example, Omar Marrero testified that, in Puerto Rico, 20,000 families still live in homes with blue tarps, which is only temporary roofing.  


  • Mark S. Ghilarducci and Christopher P. Currie, who testified about the federal response to the 2017-2018 California wildfire season, expressed concern about communications and housing shortages following the fires, and stressed the need for emergency preparedness at the state and federal levels in order to prepare for longer and more intense wildfire seasons.




Christopher P. Currie


Emergency Management, Disaster Recovery, and DHS Management Issues

Homeland Security and Justice Team

U.S. Government Accountability Office


Dr. Michael E. Mann

Distinguished Professor of Meteorology

Director, Earth System Science Center

The Pennsylvania State University


James Lee Witt

Former Director

Federal Emergency Management Agency


Stephen Costello

Chief Recovery Officer

City of Houston


Mark S. Ghilarducci


California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services


Omar J. Marrero

Executive Director

Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction, and Resilience

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico


Adrienne L. Williams-Octalien


Office of Disaster Recovery

Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority


Dr. Judith Curry (minority witness)


Climate Forecast Applications Network




Watch Chairman Rouda’s opening statement.


Watch Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s question line.


Watch Rep. Plaskett’s question line.


Watch Rep. Velazquez’s question line.


116th Congress