Dear Chairman Calvert and Ranking Member Moran:
As you craft the Fiscal Year 2015 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, we respectfully request that you provide the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) with an additional $16.1 million for the construction, operation and maintenance of an Earthquake Early Warning System.
The USGS, in collaboration with Caltech, UC Berkeley, and the University of Washington, has developed an Earthquake Early Warning system that detects waves radiating from the epicenter of a quake and would provide people with several to tens of seconds of warning in California, and up to few minutes in Washington and Oregon through their phones, computers and other media. 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 technology has been tested and proven to work effectively.
An Earthquake Early Warning system along the West Coast would cost $16.1 million per year to construct, operate and maintain. FEMA has estimated that earthquakes cost the United States, averaged over the long term, more than $5 billion a year. This common-sense investment will save lives, protect businesses, and could make a real difference in more rapid recovery for local communities, the federal government and the economy as a whole.
While we cannot predict when and where the next major earthquake will hit, we must do all we can to prepare ourselves so that we can mitigate the injuries, destruction, and chaos as much as possible. We appreciate your consideration of our request, and we look forward to working with you.