The House passed legislation introduced by Peter DeFazio (D-OR) to help fund an earthquake early warning system that could save lives, reduce injuries, and mitigate infrastructure damage from a major quake off the Oregon Coast.

The Pacific Northwest Earthquake Preparedness Act of 2019 would require FEMA to develop a plan and identify the necessary funding for purchase and installation of an earthquake early warning system for the Cascadia Subduction Zone. DeFazio said an early warning system can send alerts to trigger automatic shutdowns of trains, manufacturing lines, close bridges, and protect students in unsafe schools. He said it can help reduce the long-term economic losses that are often excluded from damage estimates. A warning can have significant impact by alerting citizens of the need to take appropriate action when an earthquake occurs. 

“Cascadia poses a unique threat," said University of Oregon Earth Sciences Professor Doug Toomey. "'Congressman DeFazio's legislation recognizes that the "Sleeping Giant" requires an offshore/onshore monitoring system like the one Japan has developed. It would give scientists and the public necessary information that will make us safer and more resilient."

The University of Oregon, along with the University of Washington and US Geological Survey, operates the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, one of three seismic networks that make up the backbone of the onshore west coast earthquake early warning system.