Every year earthquakes wreak havoc on our communities, putting people in jeopardy and costing millions in damages. These events can happen anywhere, at any time, and often with very little warning. In the United States, every state has the potential for earthquakes, and the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 42 of the 50 states have a reasonable chance of experiencing damaging ground shaking from an earthquake in 50 years. Earthquakes pose a national challenge because 75 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk. Unlike hurricanes, tornados, and other storms, earthquakes strike without warning and may trigger devastating secondary effects, such as landslides, fires, tsunamis, and nuclear meltdowns. States in the Pacific Northwest are at particular risk of an earthquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone. These states are partnering with the federal government to increase preparedness for the next earthquake with the goal of reducing earthquake losses, damages, and overall disaster losses. Much work is still needed to establish an earthquake early warning system and to encourage smart building and mitigation measures that will ultimately drive down the costs of these disasters.
The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Democrats are working to increase earthquake preparedness along the West Coast and are fighting for increased funding for early warning detection systems, which will save lives, reduces injuries, and minimize infrastructure damage.
**The Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure held a roundtable entitled: “Earthquake Early Warning in the Pacific Northwest: Preparing for the Big One” on September 22, 2015. The roundtable was held in Eugene Oregon at the HEDCO Education Building, Room 230T at the University of Oregon, 1655 Alder Street Eugene, Oregon. The event brought together federal officials and academics to discuss earthquake resiliency programs and efforts, the Shake Alert earthquake early warning system, and next steps for developing an offshore earthquake early warning system. Invited participants include representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Geological Service, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, Oregon State University, University of Oregon, University of Washington, and the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup regarding their programs, activities, and challenges. A list of attendees can be found here.
A round table press packet can be found here.
- In April, 2014, DeFazio joined other Members from Oregon, Washington and California urging a $16.1 million appropriation to the USGS for the construction, operation and maintenance of an Earthquake Early Warning system (EEW).
- In May, 2014, DeFazio wrote to then-Governor Kitzhaber outlining the importance of allocating funds to the UO for purchase of a National Science Foundation land-based seismograph array to bolster early earthquake warning systems
- In March, 2015, DeFazio joined Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) in sending a letter to the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee urging $16.1 million be appropriated for the transition of the EEW from a demonstration project to an operational system.
- In June, 2015, DeFazio wrote a letter to the FEMA Administrator urging him to allocate sufficient monetary and human resources to the NEHRP so that FEMA could perform its statutory duties. Under NEHRP, FEMA plays a role in earthquake education and awareness as well as promoting the implementation of research results and improving preparedness, which includes promoting better building practices. See attachment 4.
·Congress Negligent for Failing to Protect Citizens with Earthquake Early Warning System 6-10-14
·DeFazio Criticizes Congress’s ‘Tombstone Mentality’, Urges Action on Earthquake Preparedness and Resiliency 5-19-15
·DeFazio Introduces Bill to Fund Earthquake Early Warning System for Pacific Northwest 7-28-15
·DeFazio Announces USGS Grant To Support West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System 7-30-15
- In March, 2015, DeFazio joined Chairman Barletta, Chairman Shuster and Ranking Member Carson in introducing H.R. 1471, the FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform Act of 2015. The bill included language at DeFazio’s request clarifying that mitigation funds made available under the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) may be used to reduce risk caused by earthquake hazards, including making improvements in support of building an EEW system. This would include using mitigation funds for seismometers, GPS receivers, and associated infrastructure needed for an EEW. Under both PDM and HMGP, the State selects/recommends projects. A summary of the legislation can be found here.
- In July 2015, DeFazio introduced H.R. 3420, legislation that would require FEMA to develop a plan, and identify the necessary funding for purchase and installation of an earthquake early warning system for the Cascadia Subduction Zone. To view video of DeFazio discussing his legislation, click here.