President Biden on Thursday was set to announce new steps to protect workers and others against dangerous heat conditions as the nation experiences Earth’s hottest July on record.
According to a White House statement, measures the Biden Administration will be undertaking include asking the Labor Department to issue the “first-ever Hazard Alert for heat,” and the agency will also ramp up enforcement of heat-safety violations.
Further, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is set to invest up to $7 million from the Inflation Reduction Act that President Biden signed into law in August to improve our nation’s weather forecasts.
The Department of the Interior, meanwhile, is investing up to $152 million from the the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that Biden signed in 2021 to expand water storage assistance and enhance climate resilience in California, Colorado, and Washington.
The Biden Administration will also allocate “billions of dollars” through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to communities to make buildings more energy efficient and to open cooling centers to keep residents safe.
On Thursday Biden was set to meet with President Biden will convene Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix, Arizona, and Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio, Texas, to hear from them directly about how their communities are being impacted by extreme heat.
This current week is on track to be the hottest so far this year in the continental United States, with more than 250 million people experiencing heat indexes—a “real feel” measure that factors in humidity—of over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius).
The scorching temperatures come amid Earth’s hottest month on record, with at least 17 days in July so far hotter than any others in more than 40 years of global observations, according to climate scientists.
Scientists have explained that while El Niño—a weakening of trade winds that causes northern U.S. and Canada to be dryer and warmer than usual—has been a factor this year’s record heat, new analysis from the World Weather Attribution initiative has concluded that simultaneous heat waves raging across the U.S. and Europe would be “virtually impossible” if not for climate change due to the burning of fossil fuels.
“Millions of Americans are currently experiencing the effects of extreme heat, which is growing in intensity, frequency, and duration due to the climate crisis,” the White House said in its statement, echoing the climate scientists.
Heat is the deadliest natural disaster known to humans, killing more every year than any other extreme weather events, including flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes or lightning.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at least 436 workers in the U.S. have died from environmental heat exposure since 2011.