June 08, 2023

Gallego Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Declare Extreme Heat Emergencies

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-03), Rep. Mark Amodei (NV-02), and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) introduced the bipartisan Extreme Heat Emergency Act to add extreme heat to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) list of major disaster qualifying events.  


“Every summer, we are experiencing hotter and longer heat waves in the Valley,” said Rep. Gallego. “Despite the too often deadly effects of this heat, Arizonans are left to deal with the impacts themselves, and it is draining their resources. By adding extreme heat to the list of major disasters, my bill will help provide Arizona with the federal assistance and resources they need.”

“Extreme heat kills more people in the U.S. than all other natural hazards and extreme weather events,” said Rep. Amodei. “In Nevada, we know all too well that extreme heat can be a life-threatening natural disaster. That’s why I am proud to cosponsor legislation to add extreme heat to the list of FEMA natural catastrophes, which will ensure people in areas hit by extreme heat receive the resources they need to stay safe.” 


"Living in the Houston area, it's not uncommon for us to see a heat index of 108 degrees in the summer,” said Rep. Garcia. “This extreme heat risks lives, puts workers in dangerous situations, and disrupts daily living for all. If the scope of disaster aid were to include extreme heat, my constituents would be able to receive the assistance that we all so desperately need and deserve. That is why I am proud to co-lead this bipartisan bill with my colleagues, and I look forward to working together this Congress to get it done." 


In 2022, 425 deaths were linked to heat in Maricopa County alone. Even though Maricopa County and the City of Phoenix have partnered to put together an extensive heat relief network that includes cooling stations in accessible areas, additional wrap-around support and personnel are needed to save more lives during extreme heat events.  


“Heat causes more deaths each year than most other natural hazards combined, but our current categories of national emergency declarations don't reflect that. That is why I've called on leaders at the federal level to make this change to unlock resources to keep our communities safe during increasingly hot summers, and with Representative Gallego's support this effort will gain crucial momentum" said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.  


To ensure communities are not left to deal with these disasters on their own, the Extreme Heat Emergency Act adds extreme heat to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) list of major disaster qualifying events. 


Earlier this year, Mayor Gallego called on federal leaders to introduce legislation that revises the list of declared disasters to include extreme heat. In response, Rep. Gallego introduced the Extreme Heat Emergency Act to do just that. 

The Extreme Heat Emergency Act would ensure that local governments are not left to deal with these types of disasters on their own by adding extreme heat to the list of natural catastrophes that qualify for major disaster assistance. The list currently includes: hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought. 


The full text of the legislation can be found here.


This is the second bill from Rep. Gallego addressing extreme heat. Earlier this year he introduced the Excess Urban Heat Mitigation Act to create a competitive grant program through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide funding to combat the causes and effects of excess urban heat and heat islands.