January 7, 2015
On January 7, the House passed two bills that focus on research and preparedness for tsunami and windstorm hazards. The Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act (H.R.34) introduced by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) reauthorizes programs that support tsunami forecasting and coastal mitigation efforts. This legislation authorizes a new area of tsunami research—the development of a test near-field warning system for the Northwest U.S., where tsunami waves generated by an offshore earthquake could reach the coast in as little as 15 to 30 minutes. Most previous tsunami forecasting has focused on “far-field” tsunamis in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, particularly since the devastating Banda Aceh tsunami of 2004.
The National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization (H.R.23) introduced by Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) also reauthorizes an older program that aims to reduce the impact of major storms like hurricanes and tornadoes, through interagency collaborations on research, mitigation techniques, and public outreach. It also shifts responsibility for the program from the Office of Science and Technology Policy to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Both pieces of legislation were previously introduced in the 113th Congress and passed the House but were not taken up in the Senate, despite bipartisan support. The current bills will now go to the Senate for consideration.
Sources: Congress.gov, E&E News, House.gov