Politics

Western congress members seek full quake warning funding

California State University Northridge, students walk by a parking structure that was heavily damaged on the CSUN campus in the Jan. 17, 1994 earthquake.  The students return to classes on Monday, Feb. 14, 1994, one month after the earthquake.
California State University Northridge, students walk by a parking structure that was heavily damaged on the CSUN campus in the Jan. 17, 1994 earthquake. The students return to classes on Monday, Feb. 14, 1994, one month after the earthquake.
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Three dozen members of Congress from California, Oregon and Washington are urging full funding of a West Coast earthquake early warning system.

The group on Tuesday sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee asking that the U.S. Geological Survey receive $16.1 million to make a demonstration system fully operational.

The sum is the estimated annual cost of building, operating and maintaining a full system of sensors that detect initial waves of an earthquake and provide valuable seconds of warning before slower but damaging waves arrive.

Last year, Congress voted to provide $5 million, bringing total system funding to $6.5 million for fiscal 2015.

California Rep. Adam Schiff says warning time could enable trains to brake, allow shutdown of sensitive systems and give people time to reach a safe location.