WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), introduced the Enhancing Military Base Resilience and Conserving Ecosystems through Stormwater Management (EMBRACE) Act, legislation to authorize the Department of Defense (DOD) to carry out stormwater management projects at military installations to improve resilience at the facilities while protecting waterways and stormwater impacted ecosystems, such as those that feed into the Chesapeake Bay. Senator Kaine is pushing to include the legislation in the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this year.
“Climate change, including more extreme weather and flooding events that increase stormwater runoff, has significant implications for U.S. national security and defense. This legislation bolsters the work of the Department of Defense – a federal agency partner of the Chesapeake Bay Program restoration effort – to reduce runoff and improve water quality by implementing stormwater management practices at military installations,” said Senator Cardin.
“Sea level rise, flooding, and stormwater pollution threatens not only our environment and economy, but our military readiness too,” said Senator Kaine. “I’m proud to introduce the EMBRACE Act, legislation to help our Armed Forces protect our military bases and environment from the effects of climate change. This is a collaborative approach to defend our nation, improve our waterways, and preserve our environment for generations to come.”
“Military bases across the Commonwealth are at risk of flooding due to climate change. The EMBRACE Act will allow for projects to reinforce these bases while protecting our waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. These projects are crucial to keeping our military facilities operational and ready,” said Senator Warner.
“The impacts of the climate crisis – from flooding to natural disasters – increasingly threaten Maryland communities, including our military installations. We need all hands on deck to respond, which is why our legislation authorizes the Department of Defense to help reduce stormwater runoff that threatens access to clean water and the health of the Chesapeake Bay. This common-sense bill will support our efforts to protect both civilian and military communities, while also supporting a clean and healthy Bay,” said Senator Van Hollen.
Stormwater remains the only pollutant in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that continues to increase. Climate related impacts, such as increased rainfall intensity, only exacerbate this problem. As the second largest federal landholder in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, DOD plays a vital role in reducing stormwater loads and enhancing climate resiliency.
Specifically, the EMBRACE Act would:
- Make stormwater management projects eligible for federal funding under either military construction projects, military installation resilience projects, unspecified minor military construction projects, defense access roads projects, the Defense Community Infrastructure Program (DCIP), and Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program (ERCIP).
- Instructs DOD to prioritize projects that retrofit buildings and grounds on bases and improve access to roads prone to flooding.
- Supports the building of stormwater ponds and other retention strategies.
- Supports replacing impermeable paving that lets water run off with materials that let water seep into the soil, allowing projects such as rain gardens, cisterns, and planters to be eligible for funds.
Climate change has put numerous Virginia and Maryland military bases at increased risk of flooding, including Naval Station Norfolk, Naval Air Station Oceana, Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads, Langley Air Force Base, Naval Support Activity Annapolis, Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Joint Base Andrews, and Naval Support Activity South Potomac.
The EMBRACE Act is endorsed by The Chesapeake Bay Commission, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Chesapeake Conservancy, Choose Clean Water Coalition, American Flood Coalition Action, the Nature Conservancy, Southern Environmental Law Center, and Wetlands Watch.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, Representatives Bobby Scott (VA-03), Rob Wittman (VA-01), and Elaine Luria (VA-02) introduced companion legislation in September. The bill also passed as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 in September in the House of Representatives.