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tv   Committee Examines Climate Change Impact on Smithsonian Institution  CSPAN  December 20, 2021 4:40am-6:01am EST

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>> you need to step away for a moment, that is what the rules require. of course, we remind members you cannot participate in one committee meeting at the same time. i ask unanimous consent of all members -- to extend their remarks and have written statements made part of the record and if there are no objections, that is so ordered. i ask unanimous consent to declare a recess of the committee at any time, hearing no objections that is ordered. i want to welcome today's smithsonian institution oversight hearing and we will focus on the threat that climate change poses to the smithsonian
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facilities and national treasures and artifacts. not a day goes by when we are not reminded of the immense financial cost of climate change, floods, drought, heat waves, wildfires. these are made more frequent and devastating by climate change. these are some of the effects of climate change we are now experiencing firsthand. according to a recent report by the national oceanic and at an, weather and climate disasters caused over $100 billion. experts agree these costs will only increase over time, which is to say nothing of the human cost of climate change. in washington, on the national mall, the effects of climate change most significantly would be in the form of sea level rise and flooding. according to the national park
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service, sea level in washington is projected to increase by two to 6 feet by the end of the century, bringing powerful storms and surges. the changing climate poses a danger to the smithsonian treasures. a recent new york times piece details how increasingly heavy rain storms have greatly increased the risk of flooding on the national mall. the site of 11 smithsonian museums. rising sea levels will eventually push water from the potomac river and submerge sections of the national mall. let me put that in context. last week, many americans visited the world war ii memorial to commemorate the ats anniversary of -- 80th anniversary of pearl harbor and to commemorate bob dole, war veteran who was gravely wounded in combat and later played a key
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role in establishing the memorial. you may recall seeing, just steps away, a stone wall built into the national mall which extends into the slope below the national monument. that wall is not simply an architectural feature, it is a levy -- levee. when the city of washington was settled, the second largest creek met the potomac near today's world war ii memorial. the map provided to george washington in 1793 shows that at that time to get from the white house to where the washington monument stands, you needed a boat. today, the water that used to run on the surface flows through underground sewers through much of the city from near the
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capital, down the length of the mall. the land has been filled in and constitution avenue is lined by buildings, including museums of the smithsonian. the threat posed by the natural topography remain. a new york times article -- in detail how water has started to intrude upon the national museum of american history, seeping into the basement floors, ceilings, gaps. the museum staff has struggled valiantly, sometimes with little -- [no audio]
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[please stand by]
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>> joining us is the director of smithsonian facility's. -- the senior project manager -- nancy bechtel --
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-- safety health and environmental management. smithsonian gardens and the office of emergency management. she serves as a smithsonian senior climate change adaptation officer. she graduated from the university of maryland with a bachelor of science degree in horticulture and received her masters of science from the university of delaware. she is a certified facility manager through the international facility management association. kathy helm has served as inspector general of the smithsonian since 2014. she conducts audits related to smithsonian operations. she keeps the board of regents and congress informed about problems and -- she promotes efficiency and effectiveness within the smithsonian and -- cases of fraud.
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prior to this role, she was deputy inspector general at the -- and assistant director of the office of inspector general. she was the assistant director for the human capital office and assistant director for the national resources and environment team. she graduated from george washington diversity with a masters in public administration in 1980 and earned her bachelor's degree in 1978 at western kentucky diversity. finally, -- currently works as a senior projects manager at atkins north america and has 20 years experience in water resources, engineering, project management and national flood resilience policy. in his current role, he provides technical support as a subject
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matter expert in federal, state and local governments on future conditions and climate science approach and flood hazard managing, and flood risk management. he was a former district of columbia national flood insurance program coordinator and floodplains manager. he cofounded the d.c. silver jackets, a flood management team. he is an engineer in d.c. and virginia, certified project management professional by the project management institute and certified floodplain manager by the association of state floodplain managers. inspector general helm testified before our committee during a 20 smithsonian oversight hearing, as ranking members mentioned. it is a pleasure to welcome her
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back. ms. helm and mr. -- i am thrilled to welcome you both. before turning to you, i would note once again that members by unanimous consent -- to revise remarks. i will remind witnesses that you are written statements will be made part of the record. we ask that your verbal testimony be about five minutes. we have a clock that is on this virtual space that will help you keep track of the time. when you are five minutes are up, we will -- summarize. we turn to you, ms. bechtel. >> thank you so much for the invitation to being a witness today. chairperson loughran, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on
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the threat of climate change poses to the smithsonian. climate change has long been important to the institution, conducting over 160 years of climate research to using that knowledge to adapt to a changing world. as executive order 14-008, the smithsonian completed the climate change action plan. it focuses on public programs, research, collections management and facilities and infrastructure and highlights the topic of climate vulnerability. while these topics are interconnected, today i will discuss the risk to our facilities as posed by climate change. these risks and our plans are limited -- to limit their impact have been laid out in the llama change action plan as well as our adaptation plan, the roadmap
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for development of climate change adaptation, and the smithsonian's collection space framework plan. the recent new york times article has drawn attention to the risks we currently face. risks we are aware of. a common concern shared by this committee and the smithsonian. based on our 2017 vulnerability assessment, our properties most at risk are the natural -- national museum of american history and the national museum of natural history. they are flood prone and have extensive lower level spaces housing invaluable collections. the national museum of the american indian and the national air and space museum, while at risk, are not as vulnerable and have fewer lower level spaces and collections. the national museum of african-american history and
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culture has flood mitigations included in its original design. we must take steps. flooding causes more than just water damage. high humidity and temperature fluctuations are possible if our climate control systems, or our generators are damaged. this could impact the objects in our care. beyond flooding, it is becoming more challenging and expensive to maintain the environmental controls in these spaces. even minor fluctuations can harm delicate items. to address these concerns, the smithsonian pass national collections program has been purchasing and installing gasket cabinetry to replace substandard storage. these new enclosures can effectively protect the collections and buffer environmental fluctuations. the -- flood space -- flood safe
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spaces. with construction to begin in fy 2022, the suitland collection center in maryland will provide space for collections now housed on the national mall in our basement and our national gallery of art. the dulles collection center module two will also provide more space for our air and space museum collection. partisans -- near bipartisan support has made this possible. through master planning, and revitalization projects, we have identified what i'm going to mention next. at the air and space museum, revitalization projects include large underground cisterns to manage stormwater and the addition of higher flood gates at our loading docks. at the museum of american
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history, we plan for a $500,000 study and facilities planning and design. these studies will work on west side drainage improvement and temporary flood protection. this will increase our resiliency in those areas. improving collections, storage, and making facilities more climate resilient has been incremental. it must be prioritized and saved over time to optimize the smithsonian existing funding. nearly half of this backlog will be addressed with the revitalization plant of our historic core as well as the national air and space museum revitalization project. the $35 million provided both in fiscal year 2020 and 2021 for deferred maintenance tasks has
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been well used. we thank you for the bipartisan letter of support from this committee to our appropriators. we continue to identify strategies between our capital funding and maintenance funding budget to address our deferred maintenance. while many are focused on the development of our new museums, we need and deeply appreciate your commitment to our existing properties and collections. our future success the plan -- depends on the stewardship we already have. climate change is one of our greatest challenges but we remain committed to facing it. the steps we take today will increase the resiliency of our institution, it's impressive buildings and collections. with your continued support, this is a challenge we will meet. thank you again for giving us the opportunity to discuss the current and planned action we are taking to protect our nation's irreplaceable treasures. >> thank you.
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we will turn out to inspector general helm. you are now recognized for five minutes. your camera has turned off. there you are. >> thank you. chairperson, ranking member, today i will focus on oig oversight on the smithsonian's long-standing challenges related to the management of its collections and facilities. as well as challenges the smithsonian has identified as threats from climate change. as the steward of the national collection, the smithsonian has a unique responsibility to manage and preserve these collections held in trust. assembled over 175 years, the national collections contain more than 155 million items. we have done extensive work concerning collection stewardship and -- such as
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inadequate preservation practices, insufficient inventory controls and security of collections that do not meet smithsonian standards. in an audit of the national museum of american history, we found many collections were stored in substandard condition, not conducive to long-term preservation. we were troubled by the collection's storage at the garber facility in suitland, maryland. built in the 1950's, these buildings had exceeded their intended use as temporary storage. the climax of one of the buildings -- from snow and wind and 20, and damage to other buildings from the earthquake in 2011 clearly demonstrated the risk to these collections. we found improvements were needed for collection storage areas across the smithsonian. in response to our
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recommendation, the smithsonian completed, in 2014, its first comprehensive survey of the condition of these spaces used to store collections and found that 47% of this space was unacceptable. the smithsonian developed a plan to improve conditions, which is now estimated to cost more than $1.5 million to fully implement. the smithsonian also faces challenges in the maintenance of its more than 600 facilities. the 2016 -- in 2016, we reported the smithsonian had not -- the backlog of deferred maintenance because it is spending less than the recommended amounts to maintain the condition of its facilities. the national research council recommends that government-funded organizations with -- of their current
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replacement value of their facilities. the smithsonian has been spending approximately 1% annually. given the disparity, the smithsonian estimates the deferred maintenance backlog will grow by 232% by this decade. the smithsonian has facilities and collections in areas that may be affected by flooding, storm surge and rising sea levels. in 2014, the smithsonian released a statement that identified ways the smithsonian will respond to climate change, such as protecting its core assets and operating its facilities and programs in a sustainable manner. this year, the smithsonian issued its first annual climate change action plan. the plan identifies ongoing and planned projects to reduce the impact of flooding in vulnerable areas on the national mall.
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it also notes the smithsonian needs to update its vulnerability assessment related to flooding based on the latest national climate assessments. the plan identifies the challenges the smithsonian faces in maintaining ongoing resources for flood protection with competing priorities such as the development of two new museums and major renovation of four museums. we have not evaluated this action plan or its limitation, however we will -- for future work. thank you. i welcome any questions. >> thank you very much. now we will turn to our final witness, mr. -- you are now recognized for five minutes. >> good afternoon.
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i am a senior project manager at atkins north america. [indiscernible] our primary focus is on natural environment and provide services such as power, renewable and water. we would like to thank you for the opportunity to talk about climate resilience and also discuss how the smithsonian might enhance its -- against the effects of climate change. i would like to divide my testimony into sections. first, -- and lastly a
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collaborative government and competency solutions that are needed. washington, d.c. and the federal triangle area are vulnerable to three types of flooding. -- flooding. where floodwater overflows the potomac and anacostia rivers. second, coastal flooding, where hurricane storm surge pushes storm water from the atlantic ocean to the city. and interior flooding that is caused by heavy rainfall that cannot be absorbed by the ground. and overwhelm the drainage system. -- have occurred in the past, it increased -- including 2006 and 2019. if floods have a significant impact on buildings and structures, the 2006 federal triangle flood destroyed critical parts of the internal revenue service's electrical and
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mechanical equipment and submerged the basement level under five feet of water. in 2006 -- the 2006 flood destroyed collections of the smithsonian, national gallery of art, and national archives. as these facilities are vulnerable to water damage. -- in federal triangle is expected to increase because of climate change including enhanced precipitation and sea level rise. according to -- developed by the d.c. department of energy and environment, the climate content -- and the frequency of storms.
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[please stand by] -- among several agencies. u.s. army corps of engineers and the national park service. the smithsonian is also an active member of the d.c. silver jackets. following the 2006 flood. [please stand by]
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[please stand by] one governance in developing policies --. despite multiple efforts thus far, there is a need for single agency or body that has authority needed to coordinate, manage, and implement the project.
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not only for emergency management, but also for strong borders, planning, and any other programs within federal agencies. thank you for affording me the opportunity to speaking with you today and i look forward to answering any questions you may have. >> thank you to all three of our witnesses for their very excellent testimony. now is the time when members of the committee can pose quite -- questions to the witnesses. i will turn first to our ranking member, mr. davis for any questions he may have. >> rep. davis: thank you for being here today.
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the article by the new york times saving history with sandbags, climate change threatens the smithsonian. the author includes the image of a 100 year floodplain. it looks like the balcony outside of my office and my colleague on the committee mr. butterfield's office if this is correct and this happens, we may have some waterfront property off of that. i would like unanimous consent to enter this article into the record. >> without objection. >> thank you. how likely do you think it is that we will experience flooding as shown in that image? >> what you mentioned, that is considered a 100 year floodplain . it is a regulatory flood level
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that was determined many decades ago. that would likely happen. rep. davis: does this portray what is expected as a worst-case scenario or do we expect worst flooding in the national mall? >> no, it is not the worst case. this area that is depicted is not regulatory flood level that we as a nation determined. the program determined the regulatory in terms of flood insurance and flood management regulation in terms of development also the way the flood map has been developed in the past, we are looking at historical data to back it out. -- map it out. we haven't begun to look at the future condition i mentioned. according to a report, we have
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the rainfall to look at the future what the future will look like. that needs to be part of the conversation now whether or not historical data is enough to be able to plan the area. to answer your question, just rep. davis: could it be worse, then we should be considered about the other portions of the national mall and what sorts of threat does this pose for the national mall already to this missoni and change the historical artifact. should they change plans for what is being built on the mall? >> i would add to that as i
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mentioned the complexity of the area, think about the area as the bottom of a bowl. we have water coming from all sides. water coming from the potomac and across the river. title water from the atlantic coming up. you have the rainfall coming down from the sky that we cannot manage. without an area in d.c. on top of the creek. the water likes to go to the lowest spot. we have water coming on all sides. there should be a system to figure out how to manage and be able to predict the step was for finite -- these types of flooding. rep. davis:.
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i appreciate your responses. the smithsonian is climate change action plan agrees that the national mall is risk. how is this information on deciding locations for future museums? >> thank you for this question. we are taking all environmental aspects to a possible site location for our new museum. we are looking at 24 different sites as possible locations for the two new museums. two of those could potentially have flood risk involved in their selection. it is part of air criteria that we are taking seriously and analyzing all 24 of those locations. >> i am out of time, but i believe --
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our discussion today and thank you all very much. i yield back. >> i now turn to the gentleman from maryland, mr. raskin. reppo raskin -- don't we already have levees that we have built and how low
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-- how well are those levees working? do they need to be updated or refurbished for the future? i think of new orleans. >> inc. you for the question. i want to mention about the different types of flooding. what we build and maintain that you mentioned is to protect the water the overflow from the potomac. that addressed two types of flooding. we still have that area has issues with flooding under rainfall that the levy doesn't protect. that's another type of flooding. it needs to have a comprehensive looking at the aria rather than just one system that may not -- >> you underscored creating a
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central body that could make flood management decisions. both preventive and also corrective. do you have a specific proposal on the table? >> based on my experience working with multiple agencies including agencies under the silver jackets, in my opinion, we need an agency a federal government agency to be able to communicate with other federal agencies. and also have subject matter experts.
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adaptation mitigation in terms of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. any solution the proposed in this area we need to be able to provide those benefits as well not just the funding but air pollution and other needs of the area because we have so much limited resources. a solution that tried to capture that in my opinion it deserves to be looked at. >> thank you and i yield back. >> mr. stiles is recognized. >> thank you i would love an opportunity to have a broad hearing. let's look at the topic as presented today. in particular, we saw a lot of rain in march.
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there was a recent new york times article. it came out recently looking at the march rain and the impact on the smithsonian. with the amount of rain we experienced in march, was that out of line for broad storm? maybe for march but not for july? >> we started seeing more and more. >> understood the frequency, but was the amount of rain that came down very abnormal to you in terms of what these facilities should be able to handle? >> yes. >> how far outside the norm would you consider the march storm? >> i don't have the number to be able to look at to answer you right now, but it is something that the design --
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i would love if you could provide some comment into the record when we are done as to how significantly different this storm was. i think that would be helpful for us to understand the risk level. what we are looking at, we are sitting, many of the smithsonian buildings are sitting in a 100 year flood zone which means it has a 1% chance in any given year to experience significant flooding. over 30 years, almost one in three chance that you will see a flood during the 30 year time. i think it's interesting that we have the smithsonian investing significantly in buildings on the mall and a hundred year flood zone and at the same time, trying to talk about how do we mitigate the current infrastructure. it's a challenge that we need to hit head on. it was noted that the backlog has been building dramatically.
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i believe this missoni and has been setting aside roughly 1% of the annual budget to address maintenance facilities. is that correct? >> that is correct. >> a general rule of thumb, if you buy a house it's going to be 2% of the value of the house that you have to set aside for maintenance. i'm not familiar with museum properties. what would be the industry recommended percentage that one would set aside in a given year? >> the cultural facilities such as ourselves, it would be 2% to 4%. >> is the request of 1% or is that the funded amount and the request between 2% and 4%? >> the request we are currently at 1% and we received the $35 million -- in fiscal year 20 and 21. >> it would beg the question and
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maybe you could enlighten me as why with the request be 1% when the general average is 2% to 4% and we are seeing a significant backlog? it seems like the request may be quite low. >> the funding in fiscal year 20 and 21, there is a lot of work that goes into preparing to execute the funding. we were able to execute the funding in both fiscal years by over 90% even though we had two year funding at that time. we were really pleased with the incremental approach and it allows us to identify and work our scopes of work and correctly plan for how to execute that money so we execute it correctly. >> is it fair to say that the reason the request is less than half of what you consider the average is because there is not capacity to be able to maintain the maintenance level that one
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would normally like to see? >> our plan is to get up to the 2% mark. we hope for the incremental increase each year. >> how do you compare that to the significant overhauls at the hirshhorn or air and space versus the incremental year-to-year maintenance? how are you balancing those issues? >> you are right, it is a balancing act and both are absolutely imperative. we talked about the deferred maintenance increase and the gradual increase is much needed. in addition, it is also the capital dollar. for air and space revitalization project that we are 50% complete right now in addition to when we begin our renovations for the historic core revitalization project. both of those project when we complete them will take 50% of the deferred maintenance away.
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>> i am cognizant of the time, otherwise i would like for this conversation to be much longer. i yield back. >> i ask unanimous consent to put into record the letter that i wrote. to the appropriations committee asking for robust funding, a huge increase in the maintenance budget for this missoni and. our committee has been very firm on that. i would like to recognize the gentleman from north carolina, mr. butterfield. >> let me say good afternoon to all of you and take you so much for your friendship, the incredible work that all of you do on both sides of the aisle. we are running up to the christmas holidays and let me wish all of you a very merry christmas and a prosperous and productive new year's.
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to our witnesses today, thank you for your testimony. let me begin if i can by speaking to the facilities director. we talked a lot over the last few minutes about flooding and the effect that climate change can have on our assets and this is an important conversation to have. are there other concerns that we may have other than flooding that may be connected to climate change? are there any other matters that we need to talk about other than the flooding potential? >> absolutely. two that are in the forefront of our planning and that is around the increased intensity of the storms we are seeing and of course whether that is wind or rain. that is something that we have all of our risk mitigation in
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place to protect ourselves from. that is something we are also very concerned about and planning all kinds of training, all kinds of in-house mitigations from the standpoint of if it happens, we will be ready for. >> thank you. you mentioned that the national museum of african-american history and culture since it has been recently built that it was built with certain protections in mind. to protect against this type of catastrophe. is it 100% safe or do we need to do any fortification of african-american museum? >> we feel very comfortable with the african-american museum and the mitigations that we built into the design. we have flood walls that are built into the design. they serve security functions. they also hold back water.
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they are beautiful. they serve all three purposes. we also built in redundancy in the equipment. in several of things such as water pumps and pieces of major maintenance equipment, we built in redundancies so that if something happens to one piece of equipment, i would be able to run another pump and to keep pumping the water out if the water table was to come up through flooding or some other emergency. >> we have museums all across the country and our museum here in washington is the premier of all of the museums. is this missoni in collaborating with other museums and other states and jurisdictions about climate change impact on their facilities? >> absolutely. we communicate and collaborate within all the cultural museums and zoos throughout the country as well as the world. in addition to that, it is very
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important to continue our collaborations with the district governments, the surrounding federal agencies, we already talked about the silver jacket organization that brings us all together. we have to understand this is a regional problem. it is not just this missoni and. really this effect the entire government. we have to come together to work on the solutions. >> that's what i suspected. let me conclude with the inspector general. is there a relationship between the smithsonian collection management challenges that we face and the backlog of deferred maintenance? is there a connection? >> i would say there is a connection. many of the projects that are going to be used to address flooding our maintenance projects.
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our work has also pointed out that our collections are at risk because they are in inadequate storage space that are vulnerable to flooding and whether. there is a connection. >> thank you. i yield back. i wish you all a very merry christmas and happy holidays. >> thank you. mr. agee is recognized. >> thank you for being here. i want to talk more about the new york times article that the ranking member mentioned. it stated that several entities including the national park service, the army corps and the district of columbia share the responsibility for controlling flooding on the national mall.
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are there ongoing conversations or discussions that would create a single employee designation for someone on our side to specifically manage these risks including how to mitigate those ongoing issues to protect our nations history? >> i don't know about a single person. i would probably think that the problem is so vast that the army corps of engineers be the agency that is the most experienced and has the most expertise in this area. it is also important to understand that every unit. this missoni an institution has to have mitigations in place to protect its property and it's important to understand that we need redundancy. even with the global government response which i highly recommend, we would also need to take care of our own facilities. >> i appreciate it. i feel a little put on notice by the chair as an appropriate or
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on the committee relating to her letter with the ranking member. i did want to talk a little bit about cost. the new york times article mentioned that the smithsonian is looking for half $1 million to begin working on the separate $39 million plan for flood walls and other structural changes to fortify the american history museum. can you talk about the timeline that the repairs could take if funding was secured and if we failed to address these issues, what would be the total cost to richer actively protect these artifacts? >> i will start then kathy can follow. at the american history museum, we have master-planned first then after the master planning, it puts into a time of flow from
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essentially the beginning of the planning to execution. inside our 10 year capital plan, we have a plan to take care of that museum with flood mitigation measures when we do the revitalization of the entire east side of the museum. we are in the process of building a new collection storage facility so we can swing that collection on the east side of the museum as well as all of the collections that are still in the basement out to the pod six facility in maryland. once those collections are removed, that entire revitalization will begin. that is all within the next 10 year capital plan. >> i would like to add that our work led to the recommendation that this missoni in developing comprehensive plan looking smithsonian white to identify
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the collection space needs. given the decentralized nature of this missoni income at the most cost-effective way to approach is through a comprehensive plan to looks for the highest risk and allocates the available funds in the most cost-effective way. that has been our contribution. >> thank you. in talking about that purges asian and your role, are we aware of any salvage plans or what type of prioritization if an event were to occur would this missoni and undertake and again this is for both of you. any prioritization of a salvage plan in case we needed to protect artifacts if an event was occurring? >> that would probably fall under the implementation of the collection space framework.
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as i mentioned, our work led to the development of that plan. we have not yet gone back to look at the implementation. >> i would interject that we have established starting in 2016 training program for preparedness and response in collection emergencies. we have stood up a team of professionals that would come in for any type of emergency would come into respond. that team is made up of our security and maintenance workforce, our operations cleaning workforce as well as the collections managers. with this team approach, we feel comfortable in being able to respond to any sort of emergency . we practice this response in training sessions then we have also had unfortunately several different emergencies as we mentioned earlier that we have
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gotten practice through response whether it has been through snow issues or flooding. >> i yield back. >> the gentlelady from pennsylvania is recognized. >> thank you to our witnesses. this is deja vu for us in the delaware valley because at the end of the summer when hurricane ida tore through here, we had tornadoes, we had a once in a thousand year flood. one of the victims of that flooding, the brandywine river art museum which houses a collection was inundated. everyone of the 10 buildings on that property were flooded and $6 million worth of damage. the heart stopping part is none of the -- were damaged.
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this flood went up to the second floor. the first question as we were talking earlier about the hundred year flood, what we are reading in the flooding we had here was that those predictors aren't so useful anymore because they are based on historic data and we are seeing a typical water flooding etc.. can you speak to that? >> thank you for your question. you are right. in d.c., we have a lot of data looking at what the future will look like in terms of sea level. part of the plan, we need to start to incorporate this -- these new numbers, new protection in our planning.
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yes, we have the hundred year flood map as something that many facility managers have been using for planning. the d.c. new conference of plan and the federal element by national planning commission recognizes the future conditions to the climate change. we need to start to take that science to the engineering level and the planning level. what will look like in different scenarios so we can plan for. either we want to be there or increasing buildings -- the technology and science there , the way we design to meet the new challenge. >> i couldn't agree more that we
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need to use the data and the science we have to project the future and i find it interesting that in the business world, the capitalist side of it, insurance companies are using that data. they are using that science to project risks. i think we need to get on track as well. can you speak a little bit to any lessons learned from the river museum? >> i was horrified to hear about that day and of course we didn't have a lot of notice in that storm so that's when the weather didn't project that level of water. the new york times article mentioned sandbagging and if you have time, that is really a mitigation measure that could have been used around that museum, but it is so close to the water. in my lessons learned, it has been to really prepare this
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missoni and for every possible outcome. to have an in-house work stuff. we work 24/7 at this missoni and and sometimes the storms happen in the middle of the night. when the 2006 flood occurred along constitution avenue, that flooding also affected ours missoni institution. we actually had staff that was able to respond instantaneously when the water started to come up. that is something i understand it costs money to staff things, but with irreplaceable artifacts, the housestaff is critical than it has to be trained and they have to have the materials available in order to respond right away. >> unfortunately, with the 21 foot flood, sandbags weren't going to do it but the fact that they had preplanned to keep the
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art on the higher floors was helpful. we do appreciate your efforts and we see the need to proceed. that museum has reopened for the holidays. i would urge folks to visit if they are able. >> i yield back. >> the representative from new mexico is recognized. >> thank you so much. thank you to our witnesses. as we heard earlier as the new york times article said and we all believe it that our history, art, culture, it is integral in the bad part and the good part and it needs to be protected. then we have the concept of being very honest about what climate change is doing to all
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parts of our lives. in some different ways that we might not have thought of, we need to address the cause of the climate change and do whatever we can to protect it. i did appreciate the assessment that technology and science is there. way to put it into action. way to fund it. we need you get the plan in place then make it happen. we have heard today a lot about how the smithsonian plans to protect its existing work. i would like to pivot future collections. you were talking about the museums most at risk. the new museums are at a better position. i want to talk about the national museum of the american latino and the american history museum. there are many who want these museums to be located on the mall.
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that is where the key stories are told. if we're going to have equality and geographic setting to tell those stories, having it on the mall is key so we can plan. we can use science for how do we build those museums in a way that protects them as we look at the future so they are part of the planning and part of the building of how we protect them. director, can you discuss how you are incorporating resiliency into your plans as you look at those facilities? i understood that when you were thinking about the national museum of african-american history, you also included that. can you tell us how you are using those lessons as you plan for the latino history museum and the american history museum? parks are african-american history and culture museum has showcased that if we know what
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the sciences and where the location is and we can study it, we can build in design measures to protect that facility. in relationship to both of the new museums, we are also planning on not housing the collections in these facilities. the collections will be housed in state-of-the-art facilities that are built to house collections and they will be off the national mall both in virginia and in our maryland campuses. both of those campuses do not have flood issues. there are other risks as you can imagine. there is -- flood risk is not one of them. that is what we're doing with the new museums. we are not really worried about being able to place those museums if the site that are selected on the nations mall, we will design in flood resiliency
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to those museums. >> thank you very much. there are other considerations, but let's focus on leaving that out. i don't have a lot of time, but it seems to me that as i have been listening and read the testimony, it is congress that needs to give you money to get this done. what are some of the other major barriers? >> if i was to answer, it is your continued support. this missoni an institution is extremely fortunate to have -- the smithsonian institution is very fortunate to have your support. we also have private and corporate support. we have the best of all worlds and it behooves us to plan accordingly, have solid planning and to be able to give notice to congress as well as omb what our requirements are.
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>> in the 20 seconds i have left, how would you into that? -- how would you answer that? >> i was asking about what congress should do for protection but my time is up and i will yield back. thank you for holding this hearing. >> i will now ask a couple of questions first, let me say i think this has been a very helpful hearing. it was important to focus on this threat because we have a broad discussion. this can be lost in the shuffle, but it is a very important element of our future. let me ask you, have any items in this missoni collection already been damaged or destroyed because of flooding or other climate related issues? parks not a single item has been
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affected by flooding. we have been very fortunate with all of our responsiveness to be able to protect even when we had flooding threats. >> i want to thank you for that good news and also thanked the staff of this missoni and for the extraordinary work that they have done to protect america's heritage and the artifacts that are so important to us. let me ask, last week we had historic tornadoes that devastated parts of the central united states. our prayers are with our ranking members constituents. there was a tornado that killed people in his district. we know from our review and the science committee which i also serve on his look at these issues. weather events are becoming more
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extreme because of climate change. the d.c. aria is not historically affected tornadoes like other parts of the country, however they can and strike here. a few years ago, a tornado damaged the national mall and this summer, there were several tornadoes in this end including one mile from the capital. to what extent has this missoni and planning for climate change and -- the smithsonian planning for climate change also addressed this threat? >> i will start with that. we look at all risk and certainly climate change has multiple factors. even from the standpoint of fire that is a potential threat. we are looking at wind risk or something like that when it comes to we are open to the
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public every day. it is not just safeguarding our collection, but also the staff and the public. we also drill and we have safety protocols that we communicate out not just to our staff, but also to our public in the event that a storm such as a tornado would be imminent. we practice this communication throughout our facilities on a routine basis. it is not just to protect our collections, we are also trying to protect the wonderful public that comes to see us every single day. i would say it is in training, but also being aware of what is potentially possible and drilling that throughout our staff to prepare. >> do you have anything to add to that? >> i would like to add one thing. our work has demonstrated that
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the smithsonian collection and facilities are already at risk. there are future risks that can be magnified with climate change, but they are currently a risks. there collections in the basements of the museums, two of the most vulnerable museums on the malta flooding. then i mentioned another facility, there was a building that collapsed about 10 years ago. during a weather storm. i want to emphasize that the risk is now as well. >> we focused on the federal triangle as is appropriate, but we have also another smithsonian
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institution in washington which is the zoo. i am wondering, maybe this question is to you, is that a flood risk as well up there, the national zoo? are we prepared there as well? >> the location of the national zoo is also a flood plan area but it is not as bad as the federal triangle. there are areas closer to the creek that need to be paid attention to maybe potential erosions and other types of measures to protect. in terms of flood risk, is not as high in comparison with the federal triangle area.
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>> i want to thank all of the witnesses for the testimony today. it is very clear that we have a real-time need to take steps to protect this sony and. -- the smithsonian. i am encouraged,.. for the two new museums that are being pursued and that the location will be very deeply informed ida climate change challenge -- for the climate change challenge. this is an issue clearly beyond the smithsonian threat. the department of agriculture, the department of education is right along in this floodplain as well. the botanical gardens is not
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built to withstand this flooding. i do think that we need to contact the oversight committee. there needs to be a broader examination of this that includes the gsa, army corps of engineers as well as the architect of the capitol so we can make a plan for climate resiliency sooner rather than later. we know as was mentioned by one of my colleagues is very clear that the historical records that we have relied on are not reliable anymore. because of climate change, it is made those predictions unreliable. we need to pick up the pace on this. our committee has a strong piece -- small piece of the jurisdiction, but i will be in touch with the oversight committee because there are many
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other aspects to this. i also note that the committee had other additional questions. if so, we will send them to you in writing. we ask if you could respond promptly, we would appreciate that and we will keep the hearing record open so that exchange of questions in answers can be completed. if there is no further business before the committee, i would like to thank once again all the members and note that the committee without, giving you ao
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