The Department of Homeland Security builds partnerships at the regional, state and local level to protect the critical infrastructure that supports much of our daily life. We value these relationships because the vast majority of the nation’s critical infrastructure – transportation networks, electric grids, wastewater treatment plants, and supply chains – are owned by the private sector and operate under a variety of state and local laws.
As part of these efforts, the DHS Regional Resiliency Assessment Program (RRAP) examines critical infrastructure vulnerabilities, threats, and potential impacts in order to identify gaps, interdependencies, and the potential for cascading regional or national effects. Programs like the RRAP are even more important when we recognize that different regions of the country face different and unique hazards which affect different resources. However, a disruption in one community can affect goods and services elsewhere.
Today, members of the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection participated in a table-top exercise in Maine. This exercise was the capstone event of more than a year of activities that included workshops, assessments, open-source research, and subject matter expertise interviews with federal, state and local officials and the critical infrastructure community. This is the first ever RRAP to focus on the consequences of climate change.
Long-term trends point to climate change as a major threat to critical infrastructure and the cascading effects will affect virtually all aspects of our way of life. Through this RRAP, DHS is working with the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency to assess the impacts of climate change. With many of its transportation, electrical and drinking water assets vulnerable to sea-level rise and storm surge, the safety, economic prosperity and quality of life of Maine residents could ultimately be at stake.
The Maine RRAP is just one example of the type of collaboration and initiatives needed to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure and keep the public safe. Through RRAPs, DHS produces a comprehensive Resiliency Assessment that identifies key resilience gaps and options for addressing these shortfalls. Information garnered from the Resiliency Assessment provides options for consideration for enhanced resilience activities, and can be used as a model for resilience improvements in similar situations beyond the immediate project. In addition, the information provided to select facility owners and operators, regional organizations, and government agencies helps to guide strategic investments in equipment, planning, training, and resources to enhance the resilience and protection of facilities, surrounding communities, and entire regions.
Following the table-top exercise, DHS will continue to provide technical assistance in support of regional stakeholders’ adaptation plans and actions. Concurrently, we will use the Maine assessment as a model for other RRAPs to inform and expand outreach efforts with our partners to strengthen climate change adaptation planning across the country.