Western Congress Members Push For Full Funding Of Quake Warning System

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three dozen members of Congress from California, Oregon and Washington on Tuesday pressed for full funding of a West Coast earthquake early warning system.

The group on Tuesday sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee asking that the U.S. Geological Survey receive $16.1 million to make a demonstration system fully operational.

“With advanced notice, people can take cover, automated systems can be triggered to slow down trains and manage the power grid, doctors can pause surgeries, and more,” the letter stated. “The technology has been tested and proven to work effectively.”

The $16.1 million sum is the estimated annual cost of building, operating and maintaining a full system of sensors that detect initial energy from a rupturing fault and could provide — depending on distance from the epicenter — valuable seconds and perhaps up to a minute of warning before slower but more damaging seismic waves arrive.

Last year, Congress voted to provide $5 million, bringing total funding for the system to $6.5 million for fiscal 2015.

“While the United States is the most technologically advanced country in the world, we still lag dangerously behind other countries in implementing one key technology that can save lives, property and infrastructure — an Earthquake Early Warning system,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, said in a statement.

In a separate effort to address earthquake risk, Los Angeles city leaders planned to join California Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian on Wednesday at a news conference to urge passage of legislation that would provide a five-year, 30 percent state seismic tax credit to property owners who retrofit vulnerable older buildings.

The bill, authored by Nazarian, would support a push by Mayor Eric Garcetti for passage this year of city ordinances intended to rapidly identify and retrofit certain types of at-risk residential and commercial buildings, fortify major water systems that would —> Read More