March 25, 2016

Wyden, Merkley Fight to Protect Coastal Communities

Oregon’s senators push for earthquake early warning, protections against major storms and sea level rise

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley are fighting to ensure coastal communities in Oregon have the resources they need to protect themselves against earthquakes, major storms and the impacts of climate change.

Wyden and Merkley are urging Congress to prioritize the West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System, which is being developed by the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Oregon, the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, Berkley, and the University of Washington. Earthquake warning systems have been shown to save lives and reduce the economic costs caused by earthquakes.

In a letter to Senate appropriators, Wyden, Merkley and three other senators noted the early warning system’s effectiveness depends in large part on the number of sensors placed to detect where an earthquake may hit, and that the project will require more funding to buy and install the hundreds of additional sensors needed.

“This is proven technology that will save lives and reduce the economic impact of an earthquake by far more than the cost to build this warning system,” the senators wrote in the letter last week.

Wyden and Merkley are also pushing Congress to support programs that keep coastal communities resilient, provide critical storm protections, and support fish habitats and wildlife ecosystems.

The effects of climate change have made coastal communities uniquely vulnerable to extreme weather events, as well as flooding and erosion from rising sea levels. Ensuring Oregon’s coastal communities have enough resources to maintain healthy estuaries, combat ocean acidification and conduct marine research will foster economic development and help minimize the devastating impacts of climate change.

“Restoration results in cleaner water and more abundant habitat that greatly benefit local economies by increasing land values, supporting commercial fishing, improving tourism, and creating new business and recreational opportunities,” the senators wrote in a letter last week.

Read the letters here, here and here.