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house Bill H.R. 876

Does the Pacific Northwest Need an Early Warning System for Earthquakes and Tsunamis?

Argument in favor

Major earthquakes have occurred off the Pacific Northwest coast in the past, and the tsunami the next one causes could kill tens of thousands of people. An early warning system would give locals more time to get to a safe place when their current lead time is as little as 10 minutes after the ground stops shaking.

burrkitty's Opinion
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02/05/2019
The cascades subduction zone has a regular history of 9.0+ mega thrust earthquakes that produce local devastation and world crossing tsunami. There are five states and all the pacific territories in the danger zone as well as many world economies that are critically entwined with the USA. (Canada, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea to start) This is the minimum we should be doing.
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Jugbo's Opinion
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02/06/2019
Yes. Any amount of early warning will help regardless of the size of danger.
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August's Opinion
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02/06/2019
Do it!!! It should of been in placed years ago.
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Argument opposed

The fault that could cause a major earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific Northwest — the Cascadia Subduction Zone — has historically had such sudden, violent quakes that a warning system would be of limited value. Besides, the next “big” earthquake could be relatively mild or not occur for hundreds of years.

RAN's Opinion
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02/06/2019
This is a state issue, the rest of the country shouldn’t have to pay for people’s bad choice of where they live.
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Jerry's Opinion
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02/06/2019
Other comments say the same thing I would: why should all the other states pay for the warning system of one state? They aren't helping my State clean my water, or environment, etc. We have to learn to stop using other peoples money for our own needs or wants. There will always be more wants than we can pay for.
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JTJ's Opinion
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02/05/2019
No, do you people understand 20T in debt. Fund it locally.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
    IntroducedJanuary 30th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 876?

This bill would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to develop a plan for buying and installing an earthquake early warning system for the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the coast of Oregon and Washington. FEMA would then identify the needed funding and make grants to states, Indian tribes, and local governments to implement it.

The president would be directed to establish an Earthquake and Tsunami Task Force for the purpose of developing a strategy and recommendations for the nation to prepare and plan for, mitigate, respond to, recover from, and adapt to an earthquake, tsunami or combined event involving the CSZ. Recommendations would include legislative and funding actions needed to implement the strategy, and the order of priority for implementing the strategy. FEMA would be responsible for executing the national effort to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from an earthquake and/or tsunami.

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act — which provides grants to state and local communities — would be amended to allow grant recipients to use hazard mitigation assistance for activities to reduce the risk of damage, hardship, loss, or suffering in any area affected by an earthquake on the following:

  • Regional seismic networks in support of building a capability for earthquake early warning;

  • Geodetic networks in support of building a capability for earthquake early warning;

  • Seismometers, Global Positioning System receivers, and associated infrastructure in support of building a capability for earthquake early warning.

Impact

People who live in the Pacific Northwest’s coastal areas; all levels of government representing Oregon, Washington, and northern California; and FEMA.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 876

The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would cost less than $500,000 annually over the 2018-2020 period to prepare a plan for installing the early warning system, and its other provisions wouldn’t affect spending or revenues.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) reintroduced this bill in advance of the 317th anniversary of the last major earthquake and tsunami produced by the Cascadia Subduction Zone in order to fund an early warning system that would hopefully save lives when the next big quake strikes. When he introduced this bill in the previous Congress, Rep. DeFazio said:

“Tomorrow, we will mark the 317th anniversary of the last major earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. If an earthquake of a similar magnitude hit today, the State of Oregon estimates that thousands will be killed or injured and Oregon will suffer $32 billion in economic damages. My legislation directs FEMA to identify critical funding to purchase and install an earthquake early warning system that could save thousands of lives, countless injuries, and billions of dollars of damage. It also directs the President to establish an Earthquake and Tsunami Task Force that will develop a strategy to better protect and prepare for major earthquakes and tsunamis on the Cascadia Subduction Zone that could devastate our coastlines. We must take the threat of a catastrophic earthquake seriously, and this legislation is a good first step.”

There are no cosponsors of this bill in the current Congress. Last Congress, this legislation passed the House by a 395-11 vote without any cosponsors.


Of Note: Historically, the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) “slips” about once every 200-500 years and causes a major earthquake, the last of which occurred on January 26, 1700. The severity of “megathrust” earthquakes produced by the CSZ can exceed magnitude 9.0 on the Richter Scale if the entire fault is involved.

Eight million people live within the CSZ, which stretches from northern Vancouver Island to northern California and it’s comparable to the fault off of the Japanese coast that created the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami which caused the Fukushima disaster. FEMA has estimated that a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami could kill 13,000 people while injuring another 27,000; displace 1 million people and leave another 2.5 million in need of food and water.

A 2015 New Yorker artitcle by Kathryn Schulz regarding the status of earthquake and tsunami preparedness in Oregon and Washington and the threat posed by a major CSZ quake won a Pulitzer Prize.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: jodastephen via Flickr / Creative Commons)

AKA

Pacific Northwest Earthquake Preparedness Act of 2019

Official Title

To direct the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to carry out a plan for the purchase and installation of an earthquake early warning system for the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and for other purposes.

    The cascades subduction zone has a regular history of 9.0+ mega thrust earthquakes that produce local devastation and world crossing tsunami. There are five states and all the pacific territories in the danger zone as well as many world economies that are critically entwined with the USA. (Canada, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea to start) This is the minimum we should be doing.
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    Yes. Any amount of early warning will help regardless of the size of danger.
    Like (22)
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    It's scary it's not already in place.
    Like (21)
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    No brainer. Do It!
    Like (17)
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    PASS THE LEGISLATION NOW FOR THE EARLY WARNING SYSTEM Major earthquakes have occurred off the Pacific Northwest coast in the past, and the tsunami the next one causes could kill tens of thousands of people. An early warning system would give locals more time to get to a safe place when their current lead time is as little as 10 minutes after the ground stops shaking. SneakyPete.......... 🌊💦☔️🌊. 2*6*19..........
    Like (13)
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    Do it!!! It should of been in placed years ago.
    Like (12)
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    Yeah, let’s invest is saving lives for a change
    Like (9)
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    It would be lovely to have more opportunity to survive. Yes, early warning can makes a difference between living and dying and it hurts quick or tsunami and neither is a good way to go.
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    If that’s something that could happen there and would save lives then yes it makes sense to have warnings.
    Like (7)
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    This is saving lives, of course this needs to be a priority, especially when you consider how overdue and vulnerable the northwest is.
    Like (6)
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    This should have been done decades ago.
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    Yes, this is a no brainer but make sure you have the same or better system for any areas of the United States that might need it. Any wide spread natural disaster on the west coast can destroy our economy as well as impacting the world’s economy. This is the federal government job and not a state job. Stop trying to divide the country and show unity. But in case you want to know, the states on the west coast pay a whole lot more in taxes then most of the country.
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    Are you kidding me? Of course they do, you idiots.
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    Right on the Ring of Fire...would be a great idea to do this proactively! Please consult the experts!
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    This out of sight out of mind attitude is just crazy. Of course we should do everything possible as a country to keep all americans safe.
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    Why doesn't AMERICA already have one? TRUMP and the GOP can shutdown the Government and cost us MILLIONS but when it comes to planning ahead to try and save lives no not us! Jesus, Mary & Joseph
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    The threat is real!
    Like (4)
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    Yes. The Pacific NW needs an earthquake and tsunami warning system.
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    This is a state issue, the rest of the country shouldn’t have to pay for people’s bad choice of where they live.
    Like (4)
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    Given the scale of the potential disaster that could ensue as a result of a slip in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, an early warning system is desperately needed and could save tens of thousands of lives!
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