Earthquake Early Warning System Bill Headed to President Trump’s Desk

November 30, 2018, 11:59 PM UTC

A piece of bipartisan legislation is on its way to President Donald Trump’s desk after the United States House of Representatives approved the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act of 2018 on Tuesday.

If signed by the president, the bill would be the first time since 2004 that the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) would be reauthorized. Authorizing the bill would allow Congress to decide in its next session how to allocate funds to update national preparedness and recovery programs. NEHRP was originally established in 1977, and a 2004 reauthorization expired in 2009. The Senate unanimously approved this latest reauthorization bill, co-sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), in September.

The comprehensive reauthorization bill would enable federal agencies to create clearer distinctions on emergency management responsibilities, fund the continued development of earthquake early warning systems, and fund the production of maps showing active faults and folds, liquefaction susceptibility, and other hazards such as landslides that can be induced by an earthquake, among many other potentially life-saving measures.

The bill is especially noteworthy this week after two back-to-back earthquake, magnitudes 5.7 and 7.0, rocked Anchorage, Alaska early Friday morning.

In a statement on Tuesday, Sen. Feinstein noted, “It’s a question of when, not if, another major earthquake will strike the United States, and we have to be ready.”

Sen. Murkowski also explained, “Our bipartisan legislation builds upon the good work already underway through the Advanced National Seismic System to ensure communities in Alaska and across the country have the tools they need to be better prepared, safer, and more resilient.”