McCollum Applauds Interior Department Selection of University of Minnesota to Lead Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04) applauded the Department of the Interior’s announcement today that the ninth and final Climate Adaptation Science Center (CASC) will be hosted at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. The CASC will operate in consortium with University of Wisconsin, the College of the Menominee Nation, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Consortium, Michigan State University, Indiana University, the University of Illinois, and the Nature Conservancy. The center will cover Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri.
Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs) are funded by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) within the Department of Interior. These Centers are a partnership-driven program that teams scientific researchers with natural and cultural resource managers and local communities to help fish, wildlife, waters, and lands across the country adapt to changing climatic conditions. The urgency to confront climate change is highlighted by today’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announcement that 23 previously endangered species have now been declared extinct. The disastrous implications of climate change on biodiversity cannot be overstated.
During a perilous time in the previous Congress, when both the Trump White House and Republican-controlled U.S. Senate were led by climate deniers, McCollum succeeded in not only defending the centers but ensuring their full funding, and even increasing funding over the last two fiscal years. In FY 2020, McCollum inserted appropriations language to create the Midwest CASC, and today’s announcement is the culmination of McCollum’s efforts – putting the challenges of climate change in the hands of scientists and researchers, not partisan politicians.
Congresswoman McCollum released the following statement:
“Confronting the consequences of climate change on the environment, biodiversity, and human health is the most significant scientific and policy challenge of this generation,” McCollum said. “Today’s announcement puts the University of Minnesota at the forefront of this vital work for a region defined by the unique environment of the Great Lakes and the Upper Mississippi River. Our Minnesota communities know that climate change is already here, having suffered through a drought and dangerous air quality as a result of unprecedented wildfires this year. Ensuring our communities are able to adapt to a changing climate and avoid the worst impacts of climate change is incredibly important in the short-term. In my role as Chair of the House Appropriations Interior-Environment Subcommittee, I led an intense fight against the Trump administration’s climate denial as it was determined to slash funding for these centers. Standing on the side of science, we not only fought back proposed cuts, but secured increased funding for this important work.
“Climate Adaptation Science Centers are designed to facilitate region-specific research and solutions. I’m thrilled that Interior Secretary Haaland has recognized the need for a center in the Midwest and the unique expertise the University of Minnesota will bring to this challenge. I look forward to continuing to work together with the Biden administration, the University of Minnesota, tribal leaders, and my colleagues in Congress to ensure this site has federal support and resources so that the best available science drives our decision-making in the fight against climate change.”
- Congresswoman McCollum, in her leadership role on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, has successfully fought proposed cuts to CASC funding, increasing federal funds for the program and securing language directing the Department of Interior to establish a CASC in the Midwest to meet region-specific climate adaptation needs:
- The FY 2020 Appropriations bill did not accept the president’s funding reduction or realignment proposed in the budget request and provided $38,377,000, an increase of $13,042,000. The bill report recommended $4,000,000 to establish a Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center to focus on and address the threats to natural and human communities in Midwest states and develop a more tailored strategic science agenda.
- The FY 2021 Appropriations bill once again rejected a proposed funding reduction and realignment of the Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs) and provided $41,335,000 in funding, which was $3,000,000 above the enacted level, to ensure all centers remained open, operational, and fully functional. In fiscal year 2020, Congress demonstrated support to continue and advance the operation of the national and all nine regional climate adaptation science centers, including standing up the Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center. The bill recommended no less than $4,000,000 go toward supporting the development of the Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center.
- The Midwest CASC will support management and protection of land, water, and natural resources with actionable climate science, innovation and decision support tools. It will pay special attention to Tribal concerns and build off the unique and robust experience of Midwest Tribes with adaptation science and practice. This includes a fellowship program for graduate students and a summer research experience for undergraduates focused on Tribal participation. Another focus will be the interplay of natural resources, forestry, streams and wetlands, with agricultural and urban areas, land uses that are prominent in the Midwest. Climate adaptation is especially important for the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River Basin. The partnership will be effective immediately, with a formal ribbon cutting celebration planned on the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus later this fall.
- The University of Minnesota already hosts nationally-recognized environmental programs and centers:
- Climate Adaptation Science Centers are each hosted by a public university, composed of a multi-institution consortium and managed by the National CASC that oversees the nationwide network and pursues multi-region projects of national significance. These partnerships ensure access to a broad range of scientific expertise, production of high-quality science and sharing of funds, resources, and facilities. University involvement also allows the CASCs to introduce students to the idea of “co-producing” science, in which scientists and decision-makers work closely together to ensure scientific research and products are usable and directly address real-world problems. Learn more about the history of CASCs.