(CTN News) – As heatwaves grip the United States, President Joe Biden has unveiled a series of steps to safeguard workers and combat the effects of extreme heat. With nearly 40% of the U.S. population facing heat advisories and July projected to be the hottest month on record, the urgency to address climate change is evident.
The President’s actions include hazard alerts to raise awareness about staying safe during extreme heat, improvements to weather forecasts, and initiatives to enhance access to drinking water.
These measures come in the face of mounting pressure from fellow Democrats and environmental groups to declare a climate “emergency,” a move that Biden has thus far resisted.
I. Protecting Workers from Extreme Heat:
Recognizing extreme heat as the leading weather-related killer in the United States, Biden directed the Labor Department to increase inspections of hazardous workplaces, such as farms and construction sites.
The department will issue hazard alerts to educate employers and employees on staying protected from extreme heat, which has tragically claimed the lives of 436 workers since 2011.
II. Enhancing Weather Predictions and Drinking Water Access:
To prepare for extreme weather events like heatwaves, the Biden administration plans to invest $7 million in the development of more detailed weather predictions. Additionally, $152 million will be allocated to bolster drinking water infrastructure and climate resilience in California, Colorado, and Washington.
III. Voices from Cities on the Frontlines:
Mayors from cities severely affected by heatwaves, such as Phoenix and San Antonio, participated in the White House event. Phoenix, experiencing an unprecedented summer, has reported a concerning number of heat-associated deaths. San Antonio, Texas, is making strides in ending coal usage and adopting low- or zero-emission transit systems and renewable energy sources.
IV. Immediate Steps to Tackle Extreme Heat:
The Biden administration has already taken significant steps to address extreme heat. The Labor Department is developing a standard to protect outdoor workers, requiring adequate water and rest breaks and training to address heat-related illnesses.
The Department of Health and Human Services expanded assistance programs to provide access to cooling centers for low-income populations, while NOAA and the Department of Agriculture are collaborating on heat island mapping and increasing tree canopy coverage.
V. Urgent Calls for Action:
Over 100 members of Congress, led by Democratic representatives, have called for the swift implementation of the new heat standard to protect outdoor workers. Various groups, including the United Farm Workers, have demanded nationwide rules for worker protection after recent farmworker deaths in Florida and Arizona.
As extreme heat and its devastating impacts continue to rise, President Biden’s initiatives aim to protect workers and respond to the immediate challenges of climate change.
By supplementing long-term strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adopt clean energy technologies, these measures pave the way for a greener and more resilient future.
However, collective efforts from all levels of government and society remain essential to tackle the escalating threat of extreme heat and climate change effectively.