Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today introduced the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act, a bill to reauthorize a national program to improve the nation’s earthquake preparedness. The legislation modernizes earthquake-safety programs that help states like California and Alaska prepare for and respond to earthquakes.

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

“When it comes to a catastrophic earthquake, it’s not a matter of if it will occur, it’s a matter of when,” Senator Feinstein said. “I believe it’s important that we recognize this threat and do all we can to plan for the worst. By reauthorizing the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, we will ensure that vital research, assistance to states, and development of early-warning systems continue.”

“Thousands of earthquakes occur in Alaska every year, and our 1964 Good Friday earthquake remains the strongest ever recorded in North America,” Senator Murkowski said. “Living in such a seismically active area, we know the dangers we face and the damage and devastation that earthquakes can cause. Our reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program will help reduce those risks, increase preparedness and protect lives by making advanced technologies available in Alaska and around the country.”

“Earthquakes pose a catastrophic threat to communities in Oregon and other West Coast states,” Senator Wyden said. Congress must reauthorize this program to step up disaster preparedness and help people prepare for the worst.”

“The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program is a landmark piece of legislation that has helped reduce earthquake risk and enhance earthquake preparedness in many parts of the country,” said Steve Masterman, president of the Association of American State Geologists. “This revised version of the original legislation will build on those successes and continue to decrease risks from earthquakes for years to come.”

“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.”

“A catastrophic earthquake would be the most devastating natural disaster event California and the nation would experience in terms of physical and economic damage, as well as significant loss of life,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Services. “We welcome efforts to continue and strengthen the planning, response and recovery process.”

"I am excited to see that the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program is being reauthorized,” said Mike West, state seismologist for the State of Alaska. “The beauty of NEHRP is that it coordinates the Nation's many existing earthquake efforts. In most states, including Alaska, we entrust our earthquake safety to a small number of emergency managers, scientists, engineers, and policymakers. NEHRP is the glue that bonds these efforts together."    

The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act 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.