Congress Urge Administration to Fund Earthquake Early Warning System

On Wednesday Reps. Adam Schiff and Derek Kilmer, along with 34 Members of Congress, urged President Barack Obama and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, to increase the funding level for earthquake hazards programs in their 2017 budget request and more specifically, to provide $16.1 million dollars in funding for an on-shore Earthquake Early Warning System being developed by scientists in Southern California and along the West Coast.

Such an early warning system would be enormously helpful in providing residents and first responders with advance notice that could help save lives, avoid injuries, and avert major infrastructure damage by slowing trains to prevent derailment, stopping elevators, pausing surgeries and taking other actions in the event of a major earthquake.

In the letter, the Members write: “While we appreciate past investments in earthquake programs and recognize the inclusion of EEW in your FY2016 Budget, full funding of EEW is critical. Therefore, we urge you to request in your FY2017 Budget $16.1 million for the development of this system so that the West Coast will be prepared for the next catastrophic earthquake. This is proven technology that will save lives and reduce the economic impact of an earthquake; it simply needs to be properly funded.”

Congress has recognized the critical need for implementation of an Earthquake Early Warning System and provided funding for its development and implementation along the western coast of the United States in providing funding for the system for the previous two fiscal years.

Schiff, who helped secure the funding in both FY 2015 and 2016 for a west coast earthquake early warning system in Congress, commented: “I am encouraged that the support for the west coast Earthquake Early Warning System is growing. Every day, we are one day closer to the inevitable ‘big one,’ and this technology, once implemented, will be an invaluable tool to save lives and property.”

Kilmer commented: “We are pushing the President to make this project a top priority because it’s important to the future of the communities we represent on the West Coast. We need an updated and operational Earthquake Early Warning System to serve as eyes and ears and give folks more time if a large quake strikes.”

“Earthquake early warning is everyone’s concern,” said Caltech President Thomas Rosenbaum, “and we are very fortunate to have Adam Schiff’s strong support  for moving a west coast warning system closer to implementation.”

“The University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network appreciate the strong support of Congress in securing funding to help this important work to continue. Earthquake Early Warning is invaluable to protect the millions of Americans living and working across the Pacific Northwest,” said John Vidale, the Director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. “Additional funding will help deploy this system across the region and give individuals from 30 seconds to five minutes of warning for many dangerous earthquake to find cover, ready emergency response, secure data and assets, and prepare for approaching earthquake shaking. We thank Congressman Kilmer for his many years of efforts to increase EEW funding.”