Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) were joined by 44 Members of Congress – primarily from California, Washington, and Oregon – in sending a letter to the Appropriations Committee urging them to increase the federal funding level to $16.1 million in the Fiscal Year 2019 to fully build out and maintain an earthquake early warning system on the West Coast.
A limited earthquake early warning system developed by Caltech, UC Berkeley, University of Washington, and the University of Oregon in conjunction with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), has already been deployed in a beta testing phase and has proven that the early warning technology is sound.
“Congress must continue to fund construction and maintenance of an earthquake early warning system along the West Coast, which sits atop major fault lines,” said Rep. Schiff. “Our residents and infrastructure are particularly vulnerable to earthquakes. The earthquake early warning technology has been proven sound during testing in the United States, as well is in countries like Mexico and Japan, and it would be irresponsible not to provide this life-saving technology to the public before the next ‘big one’ hits.”
“While the Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful places to live, its landscape also presents unique challenges,” said Rep. DelBene. “Unfortunately, we know all too well earthquakes can cause great devastation and the U.S. Geological Survey has told us it’s only a matter of time before the next big one. We can and must make smart investments now in resources and research efforts to help prevent future natural disasters from becoming national tragedies.”
“In an earthquake, every second counts,” said Rep. DeFazio. “The University of Oregon and other West Coast universities are doing important work to build an early warning system that will give people extra seconds to save lives, avoid or reduce injury and mitigate infrastructure damage during a major earthquake. I will continue to push for the funding necessary to develop and deploy earthquake preparedness and earthquake early warning systems.”
Schiff first secured $5 million in funding for the system in FY15. Congress increased funding to $8.2 million for FY16 and then again to $10.2 for FY17. The FY2018 House Interior bill included $10.2 million, but this funding has not been enacted. This year, the members are requesting $16.1 million in funding. It is estimated that a full system of sensors will cost $38.2 million to build out along the West Coast, with annual operating and maintenance costs of $16.1 million.