Thirty-Four Members of Congress Urge Administration to Support Robust Funding for Earthquake Early Warning System

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR), 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 2020 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 properly funded 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 could 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 consistent and increased federal funding since Fiscal Year 2015 for a West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System said, “Congress has made plain its sustained and bipartisan support for ShakeAlert, and its implementation is crucial to saving lives, infrastructure and property. We will continue to 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.”

“In the Pacific Northwest, it is not a matter of if, but when, the next big earthquake will strike. By investing in the Earthquake Early Warning system, Congress can buy valuable seconds for Americans to seek cover or get to higher ground. Anything short of fully funding this valuable technology puts people and our communities at risk,” Rep. Derek Kilmer said.

“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 both its Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 budget requests. 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. Because of sustained support on the federal level, as well as significant financial contributions from the State of California, ShakeAlert is now available to the public on a limited basis. Businesses, schools and local governments can partner with ShakeAlert to distribute the alerts for members of their organizations. With continued support from all levels of government – at both the state and federal level – individuals all along the West Coast will soon be able to receive alerts through their phones.

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. Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Salud O. Carbajal (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), J. Luis Correa (D-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA), Suzan K. DelBene (D-WA), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), John Garamendi (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Denny Heck (D-WA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Scott Peters (D-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Raul Ruiz D-CA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), and Juan Vargas (D-CA).