Senate Passes Wyden, Merkley Bill to Strengthen National Earthquake Resilience Program

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said today that the Senate’s passage last week of a bipartisan bill they co-sponsored to improve the nation’s earthquake preparedness will help Oregon prepare for and respond to earthquakes.

“Scientists warn that it is a question of when, not if, Oregon will be struck by a large earthquake,” Wyden said. “The best thing to do now is to be prepared with a coordinated plan to minimize the potential devastation to people and property. This bill helps on all fronts and I’m glad to join my West Coast colleagues in this forward-thinking work.”

“Oregon’s cities, and in particular its coastal communities, have been preparing for the inevitability of a significant earthquake,” Merkley said. “This bipartisan reauthorization will allow critical research to continue; develop effective early warning systems; and help earthquake-prone areas to respond quickly and effectively to reduce damage to our communities.”

The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is also cosponsored by Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

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.

“The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program helps to reduce risks to life and property from future earthquakes, recognizing that earthquake-related losses can be lessened through a coordinated effort,” said Peter Shearer, president of the Seismological Society of America. “Reauthorization of NEHRP is vital to continued contribution toward the goal reducing the impact of earthquakes on our communities. We are pleased to see the Senate take action on passing this important legislation.”

The legislation would enable earthquake-prone communities to better prepare and protect themselves by minimizing losses through infrastructure improvements and hazard and risk assessments. The program, first authorized in 1977, has led to significant improvements in earthquake research and infrastructure preparedness. The most recent reauthorization expired in 2009.

The full text of the legislation is here.

A web version of this release is here.