natural hazards

House advances disaster aid funding bill

Hazards fire houses

On January 16, the House passed the Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 268) to provide over $12 billion in emergency funding for communities affected by earthquakes, wildfires, and other natural disasters in 2018. Republicans repeatedly stressed the futility of moving forward any appropriations bill that does not include funding for the president’s border wall. Ultimately, this bill did not make it to a vote in the Senate as a short-term spending bill was agreed upon to re-open the government on January 25.

President Trump approves earthquake hazards bill

Cracked road from earthquake

On December 11, President Donald Trump signed a bill to reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) through fiscal year 2023. The bill provides the first reauthorization of NEHRP since 2004, while clarifying the responsibilities of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in carrying out the program. It also calls for a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s earthquake risk reduction strategy.

Congress reauthorizes national earthquake hazards program

Cracked road from earthquake

A bill to reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) through fiscal year 2023 passed the House on November 27 and now awaits final approval by the President. The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act of 2018 (S. 1768) serves as a follow-up to the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, which established NEHRP as the nation’s interagency platform for seismic hazards.

USGS briefing and report highlight expanded rollout of earthquake early warning system

Cracked road from earthquake

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) held a briefing on October 2 to discuss the ongoing rollout of the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System. The briefing was held in conjunction with the release of a new USGS report on the status of and implementation plan for ShakeAlert. Effective implementation of the ShakeAlert System can reduce the impact of earthquakes, save lives, and protect property in earthquake-prone areas.

FAA reauthorization bill passes with riders for disaster policy reform, Hurricane Florence funding, and geospatial data

NASA hurricane satellite image

President Trump signed a long-sought reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) into law on October 5, which included a major set of reforms to address the rising costs of natural disasters in the U.S. and help communities improve their pre-disaster mitigation and recovery practices. The FAA reauthorization also contained supplemental appropriations for victims of Hurricane Florence and provisions of the Geospatial Data Act.

House introduces a NEHRP reauthorization bill as a companion to the Senate bill

Cracked road from earthquake

On August 3, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA-48) introduced the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 6650). NEHRP is a program that provides coordination and leadership in monitoring seismic activity, studying impacts, and improving earthquake resilience in communities nationwide.

Senate passes bill to improve national volcano early warning and monitoring capabilities

Mount St. Helens

The Senate unanimously passed the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Act (S. 346), sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), on May 17. The bill establishes the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System, under the authority of the U.S. Geological Survey, to modernize and unify the current U.S. volcano monitoring network, including a data center and a national volcano monitoring office that is operational twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week.

House passes PREPARE Act and Disaster Recovery Reform Act to improve disaster resilience

Mammatus clouds that are usually associated with thunderstorms.

The House passed a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on April 27, which included a section requiring changes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to increase the agency’s emphasis on pre-disaster planning and mitigation. Included in the disaster section is the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (H.R.4660) and the PREPARE Act (H.R.4177).

Congress introduces legislation to enhance flood mapping

Atlantic waves

On April 18, congressional members from Illinois, Florida, Maryland, and Texas introduced a bipartisan, bicameral initiative to enhance the mapping of urban flood hazard zones. In addition, Representative Rick Crawford (R-AR-1) introduced the Scientific Flood Mapping Act (H.R.5559), which would transfer functions related to the preparation of flood maps from FEMA to the USGS due to concerns regarding FEMA’s flood map oversight and management.

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