Congress sends Wyden, Merkley Earthquake Resilience Act to President’s desk

Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to improve earthquake preparedness in Oregon and nationwide.

The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Actmodernizes earthquake-safety programs that help states prepare for and respond to earthquakes.

“Being as prepared as we can be for natural disasters is the name of the game. When the West Coast is struck by a large earthquake it is absolutely crucial that communities be prepared,” Wyden said. “This legislation will help make sure communities in Oregon have the resources to be ready to protect families, businesses and infrastructure for when the big one hits.”

“Oregonians, especially people living on the coast, know that it’s just a question of time before a big earthquake hits our state,” Merkley said.We’ve been working to prepare for that day, and this bipartisan bill helps our state take important steps forward.  We can’t stop an earthquake, but we have to make the smart investments now to make sure our communities get through it as safely as possible.”

First authorized in 1977, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) has led to significant improvements in earthquake early warning, monitoring and research. The most recent reauthorization expired in 2009.

The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act would reauthorize the program for five years, enabling earthquake-prone communities to better prepare and protect themselves by minimizing losses through infrastructure improvements and hazard and risk assessments.

The full text of the legislation can be viewed here.

In September, the Senate unanimously passed the bill introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). It was cosponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).

The bill is supported by the American Institute of Architects, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Association of American State Geologists, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, the Geological Society of America, the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations, the National Emergency Management Association, and the Seismological Society of America.