WESTERN SENATORS: DON’T CUT TSUNAMI EARLY WARNING SYSTEM

NOAA PROGRAM IS CRITICAL FOR EVACUTATION AND EMERGENCY PREPARATIONS DURING WEST COAST TIDAL SURGE

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) today urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to reject proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tsunami program in the Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations bill. 

"Millions of our constituents face a significant threat from tidal surges.  These events-which are often triggered by frequent seismic activity along the Ring of Fire-can devastate coastal communities and economies," the Senators wrote.  "NOAA early warning systems provide critical information to residents and emergency managers so that evacuations and emergency preparations can begin promptly.  Cutting funds for tsunami early warning systems jeopardize the safety and economic stability of communities in our states."

            The full text of the letter follows (PDF here):

                                                        March 13, 2012

The Honorable Daniel Inouye                         The Honorable Thad Cochran
Chairman                                                             Ranking Member
Appropriations Committee                               Appropriations Committee
U.S. Senate                                                         U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510                                    Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Barbara Mikulski                    The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchinson
Chairman                                                             Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,         Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,
Science and Related Agencies                       Science and Related Agencies           
Committee on Appropriations                          Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate                                                          U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510                                     Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:

We write to express our opposition to the proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tsunami program and to urge you to reject these cuts in the Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations bill. 

Millions of our constituents face a significant threat from tidal surges.  These events-which are often triggered by frequent seismic activity along the Ring of Fire-can devastate coastal communities and economies.  For instance, following the March 11, 2011 earthquake in Japan, a tsunami wave surge caused tens of millions of dollars of damage and resulted in federal disaster declarations in California, Oregon and Hawaii.  Washington and Alaska residents are also at high risk of tsunami as following ruptures of the Cascadia and Denali faults.

NOAA early warning systems provide critical information to residents and emergency managers so that evacuations and emergency preparations can begin promptly.  Last March, these early warnings provided first responders with adequate time to reinforce seawalls, sandbag low-lying areas and take other precautionary measures-these measures were effective at minimizing the loss of life and property during this catastrophic event.  A similar system in Japan provided residents with a few moments notice before the inundation, and is credited with saving thousands of lives.  Cutting funds for tsunami early warning systems jeopardize the safety and economic stability of communities in our states, so we ask that you maintain funding for NOAA's tsunami program at Fiscal Year 2012 levels. 

We thank you for your consideration of our request and hope that you will keep it in mind as you proceed with the Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations process.  Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein                                                        
Jeff Merkley
Barbara Boxer
Daniel Akaka
Ron Wyden    
Maria Cantwell

Media Contact

Jesse Broder Van Dyke

202-224-7045