Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) today introduced the Climate Adaptation Science Centers Act, or the “CASC Act,” which permanently authorizes the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs). The CASCs connect scientists at USGS and other research institutions to natural and cultural resource managers who are facing the increasingly challenging impacts of climate change. These critical partnerships help resource managers design effective climate change adaptation solutions for their communities using the best available science. This legislation will ensure that local communities maintain access to this high-quality scientific expertise as they continue implementing solutions to better protect themselves from the impacts of climate change.
In 2008, Grijalva successfully led efforts to fund a national center for climate change research at USGS. Since then, the CASC network has grown to include nine Regional Centers and has completed over 400 research projects that have directly aided land managers and local communities across the country in their climate adaptation decisions. An additional 300 projects are currently in progress. The CASCs have also supported more than 200 students and early-career scientists and facilitated nearly 200 Tribal climate camps, summits, trainings and workshops.
The CASCs recognize that climate change disproportionately impacts Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and other Indigenous Peoples. Tribal Nations, Tribal organizations, and other Indigenous communities are priority partners in the CASCs’ work.
A full inventory of CASC Projects can be found at https://cascprojects.org/#/
“Keeping ourselves safe in the face of the climate crisis means we have to put local solutions in place that build on both the best available science and the unique needs of each community. The Climate Adaptation Science Centers have proven that they have the ability to do just that,” Grijalva said. “They have the unparalleled scientific expertise of the U.S. Geological Survey, they listen to local communities, and they elevate the voices of those who have been ignored far too long. It’s time to make this effective strategy a permanent one.”
“As communities across Hawaii and the country adapt to climate change, they are going to increasingly rely on locally-driven, science-based tools to protect resources. Climate Adaptation Science Centers use the best available science and work directly with local partners to find new ways to anticipate and mitigate climate change effects and support sustainability. The regional CASC in the Pacific Islands has produced over 100 research projects, more than a dozen tools, and supported numerous programs to help communities across the Hawaiian Islands and the USAPI respond to climate change,” Sen. Hirono said. “This bill will make these critical centers permanent to ensure communities can benefit from their services now and well into the future.”
The bill’s original cosponsors in the House of Representatives are Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), who chairs the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), who chairs the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.), Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.).
The bill’s original cosponsors in the Senate are Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
The Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals will hold a legislative hearing on the bill on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time.
Statements of Support
“The Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center is an invaluable resource for state fish and wildlife agencies as we try to maintain and recover aquatic species. Natural resource agencies are going to increasingly rely on the SE CASC and other climate science centers to help us ascertain how climate change will affect our aquatic biodiversity; and more importantly, what we can do about it. We just don’t have the resources or expertise to do it on our own.” – Todd Ewing, Assistant Chief of Fisheries, Aquatic Wildlife Diversity, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
“The Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change Management Network (RISCC Network) is providing a unique and effective roadmap to address the interface of climate change and invasive species, which are separately and collectively significant threats to ecosystems in the Northeast and throughout the country. The RISCC Network provides vital support for managers of conservation land and researches best practices for climate adaptation and resilience while disseminating this information broadly. Passage of the federal Climate Adaptation Science Centers Act is essential to the Network, and numerous agencies and partner organizations working to protect and restore critical natural resources.” – Dr. Julie Richburg, Lead Ecologist, Inland Natural Resources, The Trustees of Reservations
“Like many Indigenous communities around the Globe, Wabanaki Tribal Nations (Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot) and other Tribal Nations in the NE CASC Region will be disproportionately impacted by global climatic change. With these impacts already being felt, NE CASC is playing a crucial role in developing the science needed to help advance adaptation efforts across the Northeast. Passage of the CASC Act will provide the funding and stability required to ensure that the University of Maine’s partnership with NE CASC will continue, allowing us to collaborate with Wabanaki Tribal Nations on building culturally appropriate adaptation plans that will greatly augment Wabanaki adaptive capacity for future generations.” – Dr. Darren Ranco, Chair of Native American Programs & Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Maine
“Over the past decade, the CASC Program has successfully brought together communities of researchers and field practitioners to improve the resilience of the nation’s water resources, forest, grassland, riparian, and coastal ecosystems. Outcomes from the “actionable” research conducted by the SW CASC have greatly benefited the work of natural resource managers, water, and fire managers at Arizona state agencies and Tribal nations. The CASC Act ensures that this highly relevant, engaged, impactful research – precisely the kind of work central to the mission of the Arizona Institutes for Resilience – will continue to strengthen our nation in the face of extreme weather and climate changes.” – James Buizer, Founding Director, Arizona Institutes for Resilience, The University of Arizona
“Since 2012 the Pacific Islands CASC has been invaluable in linking researchers from DOI, USGS with partners at the University of Hawaiʻi to deliver crucial information and tools for resource managers across Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region. As the most remote and vulnerable populace in the US, what CASCs deliver is critical to maintaining the resources vital to our region and nation’s way of life.” – Darren Lerner, Associate Dean for Research, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa.
“Through the NE CASC, I collaborate on projects with Tribal Nations to assess the effects of climate change on culturally important food fisheries, assist with Tribal climate change planning, and develop guidelines to engage with Tribal Nations for the NE and SE CASCs. Without the resources available at the NE CASC, Tribal Nations would lose support for evaluating local environmental change and adapting conservation practices to protect access to cultural food and activities for future generations – threatening their livelihood. It is my hope that Congress will support the passing of the CASC Act to ensure that the CASC network continues to build partnerships with Tribal Nations and other underrepresented groups to combat climate change where it threatens the heart of the community.” – Asha Ajmani, NE CASC Fellow and Doctoral Candidate in Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
“United South and Eastern Tribes Inc. (USET) has worked closely with the regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASC), particularly the Northeast and Southeast, to engage our 33 USET Member Tribal Nations in research, assessments, and predictions of climate change impacts across the USET region. Our working relationships provide opportunities for collaboration between our member Tribal Nations and western science disciplines to identify current and potential climate change impacts to Tribal natural and cultural resources, leading to information and strategies that can be utilized in climate change adaptation planning. USET values the key role that the CASCs fulfill in integrating our member Tribal Nations and Traditional Ecological Knowledge into regional scale adaptation planning and supporting Tribal climate resiliency.” – United South and Eastern Tribes (USET)