Rep. Titus Raises Concerns on the Impacts of Climate Change in the West at White House Meeting
Las Vegas, Nevada, August 11, 2022 | Sara Severens (202-924-1719)
Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-01) joined Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan for a roundtable discussion on the impact of extreme heat on the workforce in the Southwest, including severe impacts to underserved and overburdened communities.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – Today Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-01), Chairwoman of the Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, joined Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan for a roundtable discussion on the impact of extreme heat on the workforce in the Southwest, including severe impacts to underserved and overburdened communities. The meeting focused on recent research by the Desert Research Institute, Nevada State College, and the Guinn Center showing an increase in nonfatal workplace injuries as temperatures continue to rise. Congresswoman Titus also took the opportunity to highlight recent funding from the EPA to provide safe drinking water and improve air pollution control efforts in Clark County.
“As Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, I know all too well the impacts climate change is having on the West,” said Rep. Titus. “Historic drought and extreme heat are increasing the rate, intensity, and length of wildfires. It's not just our environment that is impacted, it is also negatively affecting our economy. People work outdoors all day in excessive heat conditions. Their safety will remain a top priority."
“Under the leadership of President Biden, EPA is taking decisive action to protect public health and the environment for people in Nevada and across the nation,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Thanks to Congresswoman Titus and Nevada’s Congressional delegation, we passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, investing billions in climate resilient water infrastructure, and we’re poised to make historic investments to combat the climate crisis, address impacts like extreme heat or drought and advance environmental justice through the Inflation Reduction Act.”
A 2019 study by the Desert Research Institute (DRI), Nevada State College (NSC), and Universidad de Las Americas Puebla published in the International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology identified a clear correlation between more frequent extreme heat waves and higher heat-related deaths in the Las Vegas area. Las Vegas showed significant increases in annual severe heat events, from an average of 3.3 events per year from 2007-2009 to 4.7 per year in the 2010-2016 period. The findings matched recent historic trends, which show a steady increase in severity and frequency of excess heat waves in Las Vegas since 1980.
In an even more recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology just earlier this year, scientists from DRI, NSC, and the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities explored the growing threat that extreme heat poses specifically to workforce health in three of the hottest cities in North America — Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. The study compared data on occupational injuries and illnesses for the years 2011-2018 with heat index data from these three cities. Researchers found a significant increase in heat index at two of the three locations (Las Vegas and Phoenix) during the study period, with average heat index values for June-August climbing from “extreme caution” in 2012 into the “danger” range by 2018.
Over the same period, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the number of nonfatal heat-related workplace illnesses and injuries in Nevada, California, and Arizona increased steadily, climbing from below the national average in 2011 to above the national average by 2018.
In severe cases, heat-related illnesses or injuries can cause extensive tissue and organ damage, requiring lengthy recovery times. Researchers found concerning evidence that heat-related injuries are keeping many outdoor workers away from work for more than 30 days, causing further hardship.