Yesterday, Rep. Adam Schiff announced that President Obama included $8.2 million for the West Coast Earthquake Early Warning system in his Fiscal Year 2017 budget released this week, a significant increase from last year’s budget – a $5 million request – and further recognition of the importance of the West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System. The Earthquake Early Warning system is being developed by Caltech, UC-Berkeley and the University of Washington in conjunction with the U.S. Geological Survey. It can provide users with seconds to even a minute or more of warning before shaking hits, depending on the distance to the epicenter. A limited system already deployed for test users has proved that the early warning technology is sound.
“The question is not if, but when, the big one will hit the Western United States,” said Schiff. “A fully-built out West Coast Earthquake
Early Warning system is critical to saving lives and protecting infrastructure by giving us a heads up before an earthquake arrives. I’m pleased the President has once again recognized the importance of this continued federal investment.
But the federal government cannot, and will not, fund this system on its own, and I’m also grateful to see several influential state lawmakers including State Senator Jerry Hill, Assemblymember Adam Gray and Senator Robert Hertzberg take up the cause.”
In 2015, Schiff secured $8.2 million in the FY 2016 funding bill specifically designated for a West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System. The $8.2 million was a substantial increase over what the President requested in his budget. In 2015, Schiff led a group of 35 members of Congress – primarily from California, Washington and Oregon – to request that the President include funding for an Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast for the FY 2017 budget. Additionally, the final FY16 budget funded the Early Warning System at a higher level than the $5 million originally included in the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill. To date, Schiff and other congressional leaders have helped secured $14.7 million for the build out of the system.
This week, leaders in the California State legislature, State Senator Jerry Hill, Assemblymember Adam Gray and Senator Robert Hertzberg, unveiled a bill to provide $23.1 million in vital funding for an early warning system. SB 438 and AB 1346 will strike language in current law that prohibits General Fund dollars from being used to fund the Earthquake Early Warning System. Additionally, the bills will appropriate funds to install the needed seismic sensors, to implement the telecommunications technology, and to get the system up and running.
The language included in the President’s budget reads:
Natural Hazards Programs – The 2017 budget provides $149.7 million for Natural Hazards, $10.7 million above the 2016 enacted level. This activity provides scientific information and tools to help understand and respond to hazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, solar flares, and landslides with a goal of reducing potential fatalities, injuries, property damage, and other social and economic effects. This activity also includes efforts to characterize and assess coastal and marine processes, conditions, vulnerability, and change. The budget continues funding of $8.2 million in the Earthquake Hazards program for West Coast earthquake early warning and $3.0 million in the Volcano Hazards program to improve disaster response.