Congress Approves $8.2 Million For Earthquake Early Warning System

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Congress approved a funding bill on Friday that includes $8.2 million for an early warning system capable of giving a few seconds or more of notice before an earthquake hits in the West Coast, a local congressman said.

The funding for the West Coast Earthquake Warning System exceeds last year’s $6.5 million amount approved for the same program, according to Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank.

The $8.2 million also is higher than the $5 million that was proposed by President Barack Obama for the fiscal year 2016 budget.

“The early warning system will give us critical time for trains to be slowed and surgeries to be stopped before shaking hits, saving lives and protecting infrastructure,” Schiff said. “This early warning system is an investment we need to make now, not after the ‘big one’ hits.”

Schiff also said “the federal government cannot do it alone and will need local stakeholders, both public and private, to get behind the effort with their own resources.”

Language in the proposed budget states that a “natural hazards program” should get $60.5 million to address “earthquake hazards,” with $8.2 million of that amount used “to transition the earthquake early warning demonstration project into an operational capability for the West Coast.”

The U.S. Geological Survey is working with Caltech, UC Berkeley, the University of Washington and the University of Oregon to create the early warning system, which is in the testing phase.

The West Coast warning system will cost $38.2 million to build, with annual operating costs estimated at $16.1 million, officials said.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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