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Peter D.
Democrat OR 4

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  • Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act of 2015

    by Representative Peter A. DeFazio

    Posted on 2015-01-07

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    DeFAZIO. I thank the gentlewoman. I also congratulate the chair, the ranking member, and others who support this needed legislation.

    Mr. Speaker, this bill will bring new focus to NOAA's ongoing efforts on deploying early detection systems, research, and working with potentially affected communities, better educating the public and designating evacuation routes and putting other measures in place that can mitigate damage or loss of life in the case of a tsunami.

    The Cascadia Subduction fault is not as well known to most Americans as the San Andreas in California, but the Cascadia Subduction fault, which starts just south of my district off of northern California has the potential for an even more devastating earthquake and much more probability of a devastating tsunami than anything caused by the San Andreas and other major faults.

    This bill is good in the focus it brings. The gentleman who spoke before me from California said it does it in a fiscally responsible way. Well, I would only disagree with that in that it is not fiscally responsible to underfund these efforts at NOAA.

    We should be moving forward with all dispatch to use existing technology which is on the shelf and being deployed by Japan, Southeast Asia, off of South America, and being used on land in Mexico and places like Romania for early detection systems.

    We are researching and thinking about what we want to do. There are off-the-shelf technologies that will work for remote sensing. What will that mean? If you have remote sensors off the southern Oregon coast close to this fault, that means in the case of a major earthquake-- which could be Category 9--you would have a warning further and further up the coast, a longer warning.

    For people immediately adjacent or in the mid-Oregon coast, it could definitely save lives and give people more time to get to high ground by using known evacuation routes.

    The further you move north, say to the city of Portland, a major quake will have a major impact, but the shock waves would take 8 to 10 minutes or more to travel there. You could get people off the bridges. You could shut down the light rail system. People with critical manufacturing undertakings could shut down their lines, so they would have less economic loss.

    In my district, schools could be evacuated. We have many schools that don't meet earthquake standards that will collapse. Given 3 to 5 minutes that we could have in Eugene, you could [[Page H92]] save the lives of hundreds and hundreds of kids.

    But we are the United States of America. We can't afford it. Under the budget priorities of the Republican Party, we can't afford to deploy an early warning system off the United States of America. Now, Mexico can afford it. Chile can afford it. Malaysia and Indonesia can afford it. Japan can afford it. Romania and Mexico can afford it. We can't.

    Well, it is time to stop dragging our feet. This bill brings the focus to NOAA, but it also brings focus on the fact that we aren't giving them the money they need.

    It brings focus to NOAA that will hopefully urge them to move more quickly and not mess around trying to develop new technologies or thinking about it, like some of our Federal agencies do. Use known, off-the-shelf technologies that work and is being deployed elsewhere in the world, and it is up to Congress to give them a budget adequate to do this.

    I hope we act soon. This bill today is the first step.

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