Climate Refugees Will Not Be in Camps

In a First, US Pays Tribes to Move Away From Climate Threats – And It Could End Up Paying Them, Too

Climate change is so terrifying to so many that they’ve been looking for ways to flee it. When the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal in February to fund community-led climate adaptation projects—projects that include helping displaced communities with emergency relocation, for example, or supporting community resilience — climate refugees were the most common response.

A federal judge blocked the EPA’s $2.3 million payment to communities in New York, Maryland, and Colorado whose leaders believe that their best response to climate change, or in the case of the state of Maryland, climate change itself, is to move away from the East Coast. That decision is set to be made by a federal appeals court next year.

But the Trump administration is not letting that stand, and has asked the Supreme Court to review the case. In fact, the administration is about to begin making the payments to communities it feels are the most vulnerable to extreme events, including the Gulf Coast flooding in April and the heavy rainfall on Hawaii last month.

“They’re going to start making payments to states whose coastlines are on the front lines of climate change,” says David Stucki, executive director of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of communities fighting back against the EPA’s proposal, in a phone call from Washington, D.C.

But this will not deter an estimated 20,000 people from leaving the eastern United States to move to the west coast or to the Arctic. This would essentially be a new version of the “climate refugee” idea used by the Obama administration and its subsequent predecessors: Instead of seeking out low-cost, low-risk, and easily accessible locations—especially since most coastal communities on the US east coast are already crowded—these will move to the most vulnerable communities in North America, where they will have a hard time surviving.

And as climate refugees, they’ll not be in camps. In fact, they will not be in camps, not if the money is approved by the current administration. The EPA’s proposal, which is being considered by another panel (likely called the “Environmental Integrity Section”), would give communities that receive funding to move away from high-risk coasts—or to relocate at

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