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Biden: Protecting Communities From Extreme Heat

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President Biden recently spoke about what his Administration is doing to protect communities from extreme heat.

Biden was Monday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”. Here are his words:

“We’re here today with the mayors of Phoenix and San Antonio and senior members of my administration to talk about the existential threat of climate change. And it is a threat. We’re going to outline steps we’re taking to help communities who — who, right this minute, as both the mayors can tell you, are facing a real crisis in their cities.

We’ll talk about steps we’re taking to help people get through this tough time, and we’re also going to talk about steps we’re taking to help communities prepare, plan, and recover, and make our nation more resilient in future heat waves. And there will be more.

I don’t think anybody can deny the impact of climate change anymore. There used to be a time when I first got here — a lot of people said, “Oh, it’s not a problem.” Well, I don’t know anybody — well, I shouldn’t say that — I don’t know anybody who honestly believes climate change is not a serious problem.

Just take a look at the historic floods in Vermont and California earlier this year. Droughts and hurricanes that are growing more frequent and intense. Wildfires spreading a smoky haze for thousands of miles, worsening air quality. And record temperatures — and I mean record — are now affecting more than 100 million Americans.

Puerto Rico reached a 125-degree heat index last month. San Antonio hit an all-time heat index high of 117 last month. Phoenix has been over 110 degrees for 27 straight days.

And with El Niño and the short-term warming of the ocean that exacerbates the effects of climate change, making forecasts even hotter in the coming months.

Ocean temperatures near Miami are like stepping in a hot tub. They just topped 100 degrees — 100 degrees — and they’re hitting record highs around the world. And that’s more like, as I said, jumping in a hot tub than jumping in an ocean to ride a wave.

Most people don’t realize: For years, heat has been the — I have to admit I didn’t know it either. I thought it — I knew it was tough, but the number one weather-related killer is heat. The number one weather-related killer is heat. Six hundred people die annually from its effects, more than from floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes in America combined. And even those places that are used to extreme heat have never seen it as hot as it is now for as long as it’s been.

Even those who deny that we’re in the midst of a climate crisis can’t deny the impact that extreme heat is having on Americans. Americans like an elderly woman in Phoenix who fell out of her wheelchair and, after five minutes on the ground, had third-degree burns. Third-degree burns.

Or like firefighters who’s — already has to lug over 45 pounds of gear through smoke and flame, which is incredibly hot. The job is even harder and more dangerous to do in record heat.

For the farmworkers who have to harvest crops in the dead of night to avoid the high temperatures. Or farmers who risk losing everything they’ve planted for the year.

Or the construction workers who literally risk their lives working all day in blazing heat and, in some places, don’t even have the right to take a water break. That’s outrageous. That is outrageous — anybody who says that — does that.

Folks, we really want to pretend these things are normal?

Experts say extreme heat is already costing America $100 billion a year. And it hits our most vulnerable the hardest: seniors, people experiencing homelessness who have nowhere to turn, disadvantaged communities that are least able to recover from climate disasters.

And it’s threatening farms, fisheries, forests that so many families depend on to make a living.

But none of this is inevitable. From day one of my administration, we’ve taken unprecedented action to combat the climate crisis that’s causing this. We’re using a law I got passed the first day in office — first month in office — called the American Rescue Plan, to help states and cities promote energy efficiency, reduce flooding, and open cooling centers.

We’re delivering over $20 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to upgrade the electric grid to withstra- — withstand stronger storms and heatwaves so we don’t cause more fires.

Look, last year I signed the Inflation Reduction Act, the most significant climate investment ever anywhere in the world. Meanwhile, FEMA has been on the ground responding to those unprecedented weather emergencies in real time. And I’ve traveled an awful lot in that helicopter with you all across the country and — to see the devastation that occurs, the kind of wildfires and other — and drought and the like.

We’ve launched a — a place you can go, Heat.gov — go online to Heat.gov — to share lifesaving information that you may need to know about.

Last year, my Department of Labor created the first-ever national program to protect workers from heat stress. Since then, we’ve conducted 2,600 heat-related inspections at workplaces nationwide to protect the health and safety of the workers on the job so they’re being taken care of.

Today I’m announcing additional steps to help states and cities deal with the consequences of extreme heat.

First, I’ve asked Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su to issue a Heat Hazard Alert. It clarifies that workers have a federal heat-related — have federal heat-related protections. We should be protecting workers from hazardous conditions, and we will. And those states where they do not, I’m going to be calling them out, where they refuse to protect these workers in this awful heat.

Second, the Acting Secretary of Labor will work with her team to intensify enforcement, increasing inspections in high-risk industries like construction and agriculture.

This work builds on the national standard that the Labor Department is already developing for workforce and workplace heat-safety rules.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Forest Service will award more than $1 billion in grants to help cities and towns plant tree that in the long term will help repel the heat and expand access to green spaces so families have a place to go to cool off and to bring down the temperature in cities.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing billions to communities to make buildings more efficient and to make more heat — make them more heat-resistant, opening cooling centers in — for residential areas and in the cities that the communities can go to to be safe.

The Department of the Interior is using infrastructure funding to expand water storage capacity in the Western states to deal with the impacts of future droughts that are made every — all this more extr- — this heat — this extreme heat more consequential.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is launching a new partnership with universities and impact communities to improve the nation’s weather forecasts and its accuracy so Americans everywhere can be better prepared when they — when — and they can better predict what the heat is going to be in that community with the weather.

In all my Investing in America agenda, we provided a record $50 billion for climate resiliency to restore wetlands, manage wildfires, help Americans in every state withstand extreme heat.

But our MAGA extremists in Congress are trying to undo all this progress.

Not a single one of them — not a single Republican voted — voted for the Inflation Reduction Act, which had all this money for climate, which provides funding to con- — to combat climate change.

And now many of them are trying to repeal those provisions, but we’re not going to let that happen.

Part of the reason we’re here today is to get the word out so state and local governments know these resources are available and uses them.

I want the American people to know help is here and we’re going to make it available to anyone who needs it.

Follow guidance from the local leaders and public safety officials when you hear it in your cities and towns and states.

Stay indoors if you’re vulnerable. Be careful on hot pavement.

Know the signs of heat stroke, like headache, nausea, dizziness.

And always have water with you. That sounds silly, but always have a bottle of water with you when you’re outside.

Check on loved ones and neighbors who may not have air conditioning, and check on them on a regular basis. Or go to the mall or community centers or movie theaters or libraries where there is air conditioning when you don’t have that air conditioning at home.

Take advantage of local cooling centers. Hundreds are being built. They’re there for everyone, and they save lives. It matters.”

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard every weekday morning at 6:45, 7:45 and 8:45 on AM 1450 and FM 102.7 KVML.

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