Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Not really bipartisan
Some issues in Congress enjoy the support of Republicans and Democrats because they are geocentric. Just like in the good old pre-ideology days, members vote the needs of their constituents rather than their paymasters.
In April, underscoring the role of politics in earthquake matters, 25 House Democrats from California, Oregon and Washington endorsed a proposal to provide $16.1 million for an earthquake early warning system. No Republican signed the letter requesting the funds.Nobody likes to stand on shaky ground.
But it was the White House, in turn, that proposed earlier this year to reduce funding for geodetic monitoring and seismic profiling. The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee restored funding; not coincidentally, the chairman of the relevant subcommittee, Rep. Ken Calvert, represents an earthquake-prone stretch of Southern California.
Fiscal 2015 Interior Department funding bills approved by both House and Senate appropriations committees currently include $5 million for earthquake early warning. The money would upgrade a West Coast demonstration project, the first time Congress has specifically allocated funds to such a warning system.
“I continue to be encouraged by the advancements in the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) earthquake early warning system,” Calvert said in a statement Tuesday, adding he will be collaborating with “colleagues, especially those from areas affected by the Napa earthquake, to ensure we implement the early warning system in an effective manner.”
The congressman who represents Napa, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., is currently “focused on recovery efforts” but has “always been supportive of research into early warning systems,” spokesman Austin Vevurka said Tuesday.
A separate Senate funding bill urges the Federal Emergency Management Agency to give grant priorities to projects for early warning systems.
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