Washington, D.C. - The Subcommittee on Research and Technology today convened a hearing to examine strengths, weaknesses, challenges and accomplishments of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP). NEHRP, established by Congress in 1977, is a cross-agency effort to reduce the long-term risks from earthquakes.

Subcommittee Chairman Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.): “Earthquakes present a potential hazard to every state in our nation and are unique among natural hazards because they strike without warning.  The cascading nature of an earthquake can induce secondary effects such as landslides, liquefaction, and tsunamis. Support for research and activities that strengthen preparedness for, reduce the impact of, and aid in recovery from earthquakes will fortify the nation’s ability to respond to earthquake hazards.”

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently updated its National Seismic Hazard Maps with research identifying that in the next 50 years, 42 of our 50 states have a chance of experiencing damaging ground shaking from an earthquake.  There are 16 states in the U.S. that have a high likelihood of experiencing damage because they have sustained earthquakes with a seismic magnitude of 6 or greater.

Four federal agencies contribute to NEHRP research and activities, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation, USGS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Program activities are focused on earthquake hazard reduction, improving understanding of earthquakes and monitoring seismic activity.

Today’s hearing examined bipartisan efforts to better understand and improve the nation’s level of earthquake preparedness.  Witnesses discussed the work of the NEHRP agencies and how that work intersects with engineers, emergency managers and lifeline experts.

The following witnesses testified today:
Panel I:

Dr. John R. Hayes, Jr., Director, National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Dr. Pramod P. Khargonekar, Assistant Director, Directorate of Engineering, National Science Foundation (NSF)
Dr. David Applegate, Associate Director for Natural Hazards, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Mr. Roy E. Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator for Mitigation, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Panel II:

Dr. Julio A. Ramirez, Professor of Civil Engineering, NEES Chief Officer and NEEScomm Center Director, George E. Brown Jr., Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), Purdue University
Dr. William U. Savage, Consulting Seismologist, William Savage Consulting, LLC
Mr. Jonathon Monken, Director and Homeland Security Advisor, Illinois Emergency Management Agency
Dr. Andrew S. Whittaker, Professor and Chair, Director MCEER; Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, University at Buffalo, State University of New York

For more information about the hearing, including witness testimony and the hearing webcast, visit the Science, Space, and Technology website.