Padilla, Murkowski Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Reauthorize National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, ahead of the 30th anniversary of the devastating 1994 Northridge earthquake — the costliest earthquake disaster in U.S. history — U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) through Fiscal Year 2028.
The bill would authorize a total of $175.4 million per year from FY 2024-2028 across the four federal agencies responsible for long-term earthquake risk reduction under NEHRP: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
“It is not a matter of if, but when the next major earthquake strikes, and Californians know the importance of staying prepared,” said Senator Padilla. “The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program supports crucial tools like the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System, works to advance scientific understanding of earthquakes, and strengthens earthquake resilience in communities nationwide. This is a bipartisan effort, and with the safety of our communities at stake, we must reauthorize this critical program as soon as possible.”
“Alaska is no stranger to massive earthquakes that can cause serious damage to our communities. From the 1964 Good Friday earthquake, the 7.1 earthquake in 2018, to the thousands of smaller quakes that rattle our state each year—it’s critical we invest in programs that keep us prepared and ready to respond to disaster. That’s why I’m proud to join Senator Padilla of California on the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act, which will modernize earthquake safety programs in western states, reinforcing our readiness for future seismic activity,” said Senator Murkowski.
“Celebrating the legacy of the late Senator Dianne Feinstein’s commitment to seismic safety, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute proudly supports the reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. We commend Senator Alex Padilla for championing this crucial cause to improve our nation’s resilience against earthquake impacts. We are excited to continue building on the foundation laid by Senator Feinstein’s commitment,” said Janiele Maffei, President of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.
“The International Code Council welcomes Senator Padilla and Murkowski’s bipartisan leadership to reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP),” said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO. “We call on Congress to immediately reauthorize NEHRP to continue the advancement of model building codes that improve building safety and earthquake resilience.”
“The American Society of Civil Engineer (ASCE) applauds Senators Alex Padilla and Lisa Murkowski for prioritizing the resilience of our nation’s infrastructure against seismic events and is pleased to support their efforts to reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP). Since 1977, NEHRP has provided the resources and leadership that have led to significant advances in understanding the risk earthquakes pose and the best ways to mitigate them. This reauthorization will ensure that NEHRP resources continue to improve our understanding of earthquakes and guide the ASCE standards that form the backbone of building codes that protect public health, safety, and economic vitality,” said ASCE President Marsia Geldert-Murphey.
“The Seismological Society of America (SSA) and its members have long supported the importance of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) and are pleased to see Senator Padilla’s efforts to ensure its reauthorization. NEHRP has proven a resounding success in reducing earthquake-related losses in the United States, and its achievements in research, public awareness and building safety improvements have made the nation more resilient. SSA strongly encourages Congress to act on the reauthorization of NEHRP,” said Heather DeShon, President-elect, Seismological Society of America.
“The National Council of Structural Engineers Associations is proud to support the NERHP reauthorization bill and is grateful for the bi-partisan leadership of Senators Padilla and Murkowski. NCSEA urges Congress to prioritize reauthorization to enable the NEHRP agencies to contribute critical science, knowledge, and other best practices toward the development of codes, standards, and other resources used by structural engineers around the country to improve the earthquake resilience of our communities,” said Ryan Kersting, California Structural Engineer and President of the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA).
“SEAOC commends Senators Padilla and Murkowski for championing NEHRP reauthorization, aligning with Structural Engineers Association of California’s (SEAOC) commitment to enhanced seismic safety and community resilience. Drawing inspiration from Senator Feinstein’s legacy, SEAOC implores Congress to act promptly in fortifying California and the entire nation against the seismic challenges ahead,” said Emily Guglielmo, SE (CA), President of the Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC).
“BuildStrong America is pleased to support the reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. NEHRP reflects our unwavering commitment to building a resilient and safer future. By investing in seismic research, preparedness, and community engagement, we pave the way for a nation that stands strong in the face of earthquakes, ensuring the well-being of our communities and the durability of our shared infrastructure. We look forward to working with Senators Padilla and Murkowski to reauthorization this critical program and to make NEHRP an effective program,” said BuildStrong America’s Executive Director, Dr. Natalie Enclade.
“NEHRP’s activities help communities with strong building codes and mitigation techniques that are highly cost effective to protect people,” said Dr. JQ Yuan, National Institute of Building Sciences, Vice President of Engineering.
Specifically, the NEHRP Reauthorization Act of 2024 would authorize $10.6 million for FEMA, $5.9 million for NIST, $58 million for NSF, and $100.9 million for USGS per year from FY 2024-2028. This funding would support research, development and implementation activities related to earthquake safety and risk reduction.
This NEHRP reauthorization includes:
- Directing state and local entities to inventory high risk buildings and structures, expanding seismic events to include earthquake-caused tsunamis;
- Providing more technical assistance to Tribal governments; and
- Improving mitigation for earthquake-connected hazards.
California faces substantial earthquake risks. According to the California Department of Conservation, over 70 percent of Californians live within 30 miles of a fault that could cause high ground shaking within the next 50 years. The state averages two to three earthquakes per year at magnitude 5.5 or higher, risking moderate structural damage. Because of these major earthquake risks, California has become a leader in earthquake research, including through the California Institute of Technology Seismological Laboratory.
The NEHRP Reauthorization Act of 2024 is endorsed by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), BuildStrong America, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), International Code Council (ICC), the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA), the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), Seismological Society of America, and the Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC).
Senator Padilla has long been a leader in mitigating earthquake risks. As a California State Senator, Padilla authored Senate Bill 135, signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013, which required the state to establish the nation’s first statewide early warning system. In 2021, he led five of his U.S. Senate colleagues in requesting details from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on future plans and funding needs for the West Coast Early Earthquake Warning system.
Full text of the bill is available here.