Thirty-Four representatives band together to promote funding for the system
Recently, Representatives Adam Schiff (CA-28), Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Peter DeFazio (OR-04), along with 31 Members of Congress, wrote a letter to the Office of Management and Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, strongly urging the Trump Administration to include funding in the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget for the continued development and operation of the West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System (EEW).
“To follow through on the funding made by the federal government, as well as growing commitment from states and the private sector, it is critical that this program be fully funded at $16.1 million annually so the West Coast will be prepared for the next catastrophic earthquake,” the Members wrote in their letter. “This technology will save lives and reduce the economic impact of an earthquake; it simply needs to be properly funded.”
EEW technology, also known as ShakeAlert, is already fully operational in countries like Japan and Mexico, and is credited for saving lives during Mexico City’s earthquake in September. Such an early warning system would provide residents and first responders with advanced notice that could help save lives, avoid injuries, and avert major infrastructural damage by slowing trains to prevent derailment, stopping elevators, pausing surgeries and taking other actions in the event of a major earthquake.
Rep. Schiff, who helped secure Congressional funding in FY 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 for a West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System said, “Congress has made plain its sustained support for ShakeAlert, and its implementation is crucial to saving lives and property. We urge the Trump Administration to recognize the immense value of this system and fully support its funding so that it can be deployed widely before the ‘big one’ hits.”
“A few crucial seconds can make all the difference if a large quake strikes the West Coast,” said Rep. Kilmer. “That’s why it is critical to have a fully operational warning system to give folks a heads up so they can take proactive steps to ensure their safety. This administration needs to fully support this technology to better protect our communities.”
“Life-saving earthquake early warning technology exists, but is not yet fully implemented in the United States because of a lack of will—that has to change. We’re living on borrowed time,” said Rep. DeFazio, Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “In an earthquake, every second counts. We could save lives and protect critical infrastructure if we installed a robust early warning system, like ShakeAlert. It’s only a matter of time before we see a major quake off the Oregon Coast and we must be prepared for that day.”
The White House eliminated funding for the West Coast Earthquake Early Warning system in its Fiscal Year 2018 budget request. Congress has recognized the critical need for implementation of an Earthquake Early Warning System and has provided funding for its development and implementation in recent Fiscal Years. If funding continues, the system is on track to be available to the public on a limited basis next year.
ShakeAlert is being developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in conjunction with California Institute of Technology; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Washington; the University of Oregon; the University of Nevada, Reno; and Central Washington University.
Schiff, Kilmer and DeFazio were joined by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Salud O. Carbajal (CA-24), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Judy Chu (CA-27), Suzan K. DelBene (WA-01), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), John Garamendi (CA-03), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1), Denny Heck (WA-10), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Mark Takano (CA-41), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Norma Torres (CA-35), and Juan Vargas (CA-51).