9 March 2010

U.S. House of Representatives Acts to Reduce Hazards

Posted by Michael McFadden

The U.S. House of Representatives approved last week a bill that renews  two important federal programs aimed at mitigating and reducing destruction from natural disasters.  This legislation, H.R. 3820, the Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act of 2010, was approved on 2 March with a vote of 335-50.

First, the bill renews the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), which was created in 1977. Not only is NEHRP responsible for developing seismic building codes and other infrastructure standards, it also plays a key role in earthquake research.  This reauthorization allows the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to continue their efforts to develop and promote earthquake mitigation measures.  NEHRP also encourages people in earthquake-prone areas to better prepare for earthquakes.

Second, the bill reauthorizes the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP), which was more recently formed in 2004.  NWIRP provides funding to study wind hazards and to develop building codes and practices to prevent infrastructure damage by hurricanes, tornadoes, and other windstorms.  The program also supports FEMA, NSF, NIST, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in their efforts to reduce windstorm damage.

Representative Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), chair of the House Committee on Science and Technology and sponsor of the bill, says in a press release that the bill will increase coordination of federal natural hazards research and development efforts, and identify common research approaches appropriate across different types of hazards.

After the bill was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, it was sent to the Senate for consideration.  The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will deliberate on the bill before it can go to a vote on the Senate floor.

To let Senators know of your support for this bill, please click here to find their contact information.

—Kaitlin Chell, AGU Public Affairs Coordinator