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Congressman Peter DeFazio

Representing the 4th District of OREGON

DeFazio Applauds House Passage of Bill to Support Earthquake Early Warning System, Help States Prevent Wildfires

Dec 21, 2017
Press Release

Today, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for passage of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA), as part of H.R. 4667, legislation providing supplemental appropriations for disaster relief. The DRRA includes a provision introduced by DeFazio that would clarify that hazard mitigation funds may be used to purchase components of an earthquake early warning system off the Pacific Northwest coast. This critical early warning system could save lives, reduce injuries, and mitigate infrastructure damage from the devastating effects of a major quake off the Oregon Coast. 

“We have known about the threat posed by the Cascadia Subduction Zone for decades, and yet we have failed to prepare and protect our coastline from a catastrophic earthquake. My legislation is simple—it forces the federal government to get serious and install a critical system that could save thousands of lives, countless injuries, and billions of dollars of damage. I applaud my colleagues for taking this threat seriously and working with me to prepare and protect our coastal communities. I urge the Senate to pass this common sense bill,” said DeFazio.

DeFazio’s provision clarifies that States may use hazard mitigation funds to improve the earthquake early warning system.

WILDFIRE

The DRRA also includes important wildfire provisions, including expanding eligibility for hazard mitigation assistance to wildfires on state and private lands as well as clarifying eligible hazard mitigation activities related to wildfires.

“States should have the flexibility to use disaster mitigation funds from the Federal government to try and prevent the catastrophic wildfires as well as the flooding and mudslides that follow and devastate Western communities. This legislation will allow states to do just that,” said DeFazio.

PROTECTING COMMUNITIES IN FLOODPLAINS

DRRA also includes a DeFazio provision that will prohibit FEMA from expanding its authority related to floodplain management unless explicitly authorized. This provision will help clarify that FEMA cannot regulate land use, or prescribe a community’s regulations of its own land use in flood-prone areas. 

Without this language, Oregon would be subject to restrictive federal regulations that could severely impact or prohibit economic development across the state of Oregon due to purported impacts on threatened species. These new regulations will go far beyond preventing new construction in pristine and undeveloped areas to protect endangered species habitat. In fact, the regulations will supersede Oregon’s strong land-use protections by prohibiting development in already developed areas and they will encourage urban sprawl.