Update on Recent Government Relations Activities, January 2010
SSA Government Relations Committee Chairman Stu Nishenko Testifies before Congress on NEHRP Reauthorization
On 20 January 2010 the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act of 2009, which contains the reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP). As a featured witness, SSA Government Relations Committee Chairman Stu Nishenko provided invited testimony before Chairman Jim Costa (D-California, District 20), Ranking Member Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado, District 5), and the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Nishenko testified and answered questions about NEHRP’s successes over the past authorization period, addressed changes to the USGS authorization amounts in the current bill, and discussed how reductions to funding levels would impact the earthquake programs at USGS, and by extension, the enduser community. Of particular interest to the committee members, in light of the recent earthquakes in Haiti, was the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) and how it provides data that helps direct first responders and other emergency aid efforts.
Dave Applegate, USGS senior science advisor for earthquakes and geologic hazards and an SSA member, also testified. Applegate provided information about USGS earthquake programs and products such as the Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response (PAGER)—an automated system that rapidly assesses the number of people and regions affected by severe earthquakes— and ShakeMap, which provides near-real-time maps of ground motion and shaking. These products often contribute data that is vital to directing emergency response, he said. Nishenko elaborated that these products are not luxuries but are necessary to maintain the nation’s public safety.
The NEHRP authorization expired 30 September 2009, and the outcome of the 20 January 2010 hearing will determine when it will be re-authorized. The House Natural Resources Committee has jurisdiction over the authorization for the USGS component of NEHRP, and it held the 20 January 2010 hearing to address changes to the program written by the House Science Committee, where the initial Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act was created. The SSA Government Relations Committee will continue to follow these developments and provide reports to SSA members.
Government Relations Committee
Government Affairs Director
The Federal Affairs Office