Wyden, Merkley Join West Coast Senators to Press USGS on Future of Earthquake Early Warning System

Washington, DC — U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today joined their West Coast colleagues in the Senate to request details from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on future plans and funding needs for the West Coast Early Earthquake Warning (EEW) system.

“After years of strong congressional and state-level support, we are glad to see the EEW system has advanced to having nearly 70 percent of seismic stations in place and active across the West Coast,” the senators wrote in a letter to USGS Associate Director for Natural Hazards, Dr. Dave Applegate. “As we all know, it is not a matter of “if” but “when” the next major earthquake will strike. Therefore, it is essential that we complete the buildout of the EEW system as quickly as possible and ensure its infrastructure and operations are robust enough to provide a meaningful public safety benefit to our constituents.”

Earthquake Early Warning systems are meant to give vital seconds before shaking is felt, allowing people to take cover, stop ongoing surgeries, and halt public transit to keep passengers safe. With federal funding and partnerships with universities and other organizations, the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning system is now available in Oregon, California and Washington. The system is a network of sensors that collects and shares real-time information about the magnitude, location and expected shaking from earthquakes on the West Coast to distribution partners who then deliver alerts via cell phones and the internet.

The senators requested information on the funding needed to complete buildout of seismic stations, costs of maintenance and operations, plans to improve reliability and resilience of system, possibility of offshore sensors, and partnerships with external organizations on system operations and development.

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, others signing the letter led by U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) are U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)

Full text of the letter is here.

A web version of this release is here.