In a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, 34 members of Congress, including Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), urged the Trump administration to include funding for the continued development and operation of the West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System (EEW) in the 2019 budget.
“To follow through on the funding made by the federal government, as well as growing commitment from states and the private sector, it is critical that this program be fully funded at $16.1 million annually so the West Coast will be prepared for the next catastrophic earthquake,” the lawmakers wrote in the Oct. 31 letter. “This technology will save lives and reduce the economic impact of an earthquake; it simply needs to be properly funded.”
EEW technology, also known as ShakeAlert, is fully operational in several countries, including Japan and Mexico.
ShakeAlert is being developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in conjunction with Caltech, UC Berkeley, the University of Washington, the University of Oregon, the University of Nevada, Reno, and Central Washington University.
On the West Coast an early warning system would provide residents and first responders with advanced notice that could help save lives, avoid injuries and avert major infrastructural damage by slowing trains to prevent derailment, stopping elevators, pausing surgeries and taking other actions in the event of a major earthquake.
Funding for the project was removed from the 2018 budget.
“Congress has made plain its sustained support for ShakeAlert, and its implementation is crucial to saving lives and property,” Schiff said in the letter. “We urge the Trump administration to recognize the immense value of this system and fully support its funding so that it can be deployed widely before the ‘big one’ hits.”
Mexico was struck by an 8.2 earthquake in September.
According to the USGS, an earthquake that size would cause a 180-mile rupture along the southern portion of California’s San Andreas Fault and could produce the “Big One,” which would be felt “pretty widely throughout the state” and even as far as Las Vegas but “the worst shaking will be in the Los Angeles basin.”