Today, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology approved H.R. 3479, the Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act of 2011, authored by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL). The legislation reauthorizes the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) and the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP), supporting the development of hazard reduction measures, and the creation of disaster-resilient communities.
"Over the years, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program has been instrumental in developing and advancing earthquake knowledge and raising awareness of earthquake hazards," said Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX). "The National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program has supported activities to improve the understanding of windstorms and their impacts, while developing and encouraging the implementation of cost-effective mitigation measures."
An amendment offered by Rep. Biggert that was unanimously approved makes a number of improvements to the underlying legislation. The amendment strengthens post-earthquake investigation reporting and highlights the contribution of the National Labs to disaster research and development.
"We can't stop earthquakes, but we can be ready, and this legislation will mobilize the scientific expertise needed to save lives," said Biggert. "These important programs are critical to maintaining the early-warning systems, building codes, emergency planning, and other tools that keep Americans safe during an emergency. I appreciate Chairman Hall's support in helping to move this important bill through the Committee process, and I look forward to its passage on the House floor."
Committee Republicans accepted two minority amendments. One addresses earthquake and windstorm preparedness outreach to individuals with special needs, while the other enhances research into fires at the wildland-urban interface. Republicans defeated three minority amendments that would have significantly increased the cost of the legislation. The amendments would have increased the authorization levels for the windstorm and earthquake programs by $224.1 million when compared to H.R. 3479, and would have increased the authorization level of the earthquake program dramatically above the President's request.
Additional cosponsors of H.R. 3479 include: Chairman Hall, Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS). The bill was reported out of Committee by a vote of 21-12.