Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) circulated a Dear Colleagues letter to fellow U.S. House members urging the Office of Management and Budget to include ShakeAlert in the U.S. Geological Survey budget request to Congress. The letter (link) dated Feb. 25 was signed by 32 members of Congress, including all five House members from the Oregon delegation.
The letter requests $28.6 million annually to support the west coast early warning system. ShakeAlert was made available to the public for alerting to wireless devices in California in October 2019 and will go public in Oregon on March 11 and Washington in May. While ShakeAlert has been successfully implemented along the west coast, the network needs continuous funding for further acquisition of sensors, operations, and maintenance.
The members of Congress wrote to Rob Fairweather, acting director of OMB, states “with concern regarding the heightened risk of a major earthquake resulting from increased seismic activity near the San Andreas Fault, coupled with the prospect of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake along the Pacific Northwest coast, there is public demand for EEW to be fully operational. When major earthquake events occur—and we know it is “when” and not “if”—they have the potential to be one of the costliest and deadliest disasters the United States has ever faced. Given the economic and health strains of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more critical than ever that we limit the potential damage of compounding crises.”
President Joe Biden is expected to send his proposed budget to Congress this spring.