15 September 2023

A Hearing on Climate Change's Impact on Infrastructure

Written by: Victor Magana

For the first few months working as a Program Analyst Fellow in the US Fish and Wildlife Services’ Infrastructure Management Division, I primarily dealt with records management. However, I had the opportunity to go to a Senate Budget Committee Hearing regarding the fiscal consequences of climate change on our nation’s infrastructure. I was excited to go into the Dirksen Senate Office Building and see where our representatives discussed relevant issues. One amusing aspect of the experience was being led through the tunnels underneath the building that contained a barbershop, a cafeteria/coffee shop, and other services you wouldn’t expect to come across in a government building.

After the brief tour, I arrived at the hearing room and watched as the room filled with what mostly seemed like legislative interns, photographers, and other interested parties. Soon the witnesses, which consisted of the CEOs of an energy company and a permitting company, a professor of sustainable real estate and urban planning, a senior advisor of an analysis group, and the Governor of Louisiana arrived alongside the senators leading the hearing. During the hearing, we heard statements from the senators and witnesses regarding climate change and its impact on infrastructure, as well as issues they believe impeded progress and the best path forward.

This hearing was thought-provoking, and it engaged my interest in climate resiliency and the importance of preparing our country and supporting communities most impacted by climate change. It was interesting hearing their different perspectives and trying to understand how the committee would use the information going forward. Although senators belonging to both parties presented their differing thoughts on the process of addressing climate change’s impact, it was relieving to hear they agreed on improving our nation’s infrastructure to combat its effects. I appreciate being exposed to the workings of these hearings and understanding the importance of discussing topics like climate change. I hope to continue to learn more about what our government is doing to address environmental issues and how they affect us as a nation.

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