This summer millions of Americans are grappling with extreme heat and record high temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit – sending tens of thousands of Americans to the emergency room, increasing health problems and putting the elderly, children at risk and workers. As the effects of searing heat intensify across the country due to climate change, President Biden and Vice President Harris are taking action to protect communities, including by:
- Reduce air conditioning costs for families: In April, the administration released $385 million through the Home Energy Assistance Program for Low-Income Households (LIHEAP), including to reduce summer air-conditioning costs. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services issued guidelines to help states use this funding to install more electric air conditioners and heat pumps in homes.
- Support community cooling centers: The new LIHEAP guidelines also help states, tribes and territories establish community cooling centers in public facilities where people can cool off during the hottest times of the day. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency is using US bailout funding to help create cooling centers in public schools.
- Ensuring workplace safety: In April, Vice President Harris and Secretary of Labor Walsh launched the first national program to protect workers indoors and outdoors from heat stress. Since then, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has already conducted more than 500 heat-related inspections, focused on more than 70 high-risk industries in 43 states.
- Development of the first national heat standard to protect workers: OSHA has started the process of developing the first-ever national heat standard to ensure the protection of indoor and outdoor workplaces across the country.
- Provide real-time data and response resources: To provide local officials and the public with robust and accessible information, the administration launched Heat.gov, a new centralized portal with real-time, interactive data and resources on extreme heat conditions, preparedness and response.
- Identify and address disproportionate impacts: A recent EPA analysis confirms that climate change extreme temperatures are disproportionately impacting socially vulnerable groups. EPA’s Let’s Talk Heat Challenge supports local communication strategies to educate people about extreme heat risks and ways to stay safe, with a focus on engaging underserved and overburdened communities.
- Harnessing nature to cool cities: The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration is helping communities map urban heat islands, areas that can be up to 20 degrees warmer due to factors such as higher pavement concentration and lower tree cover. The US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service has developed a guide for communities and is helping fund urban tree and greening projects to reduce temperature extremes and heat exposure.
- Invest in proactive resilience projects: Last week, President Biden announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will have $2.3 billion for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program to help communities build resilience. to heat waves, drought, wildfires, floods, hurricanes and other hazards. preparing for disaster.
- Financing innovative cooling technologies: The Department of Homeland Security recently announced the winners of the first-ever Cooling Solutions Challenge competition, supporting innovative ideas to help first responders, individuals, households, or displaced populations stay cool during extreme heat events.
- Helping healthcare professionals prepare and respond: The Department of Health and Human Services, through the administration’s new Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, has launched a climate and health lens to inform health professionals weather events expected in the next 30-90 days and support proactive action to reduce health risks from heat waves and other extreme weather events.