Earthquakes: Risk, Monitoring, Notification, and Research [Updated January 16, 2008]   [open pdf - 366KB]

"Given the potentially huge costs associated with a severe earthquake, an ongoing issue for Congress is whether the federally supported programs aimed at reducing U.S. vulnerability to earthquakes are an adequate response to the earthquake hazard. Under the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), four federal agencies have responsibility for long-term earthquake risk reduction: the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). They variously assess U.S. earthquake hazards, send notifications of seismic events, develop measures to reduce earthquake hazards, and conduct research to help reduce overall U.S. vulnerability to earthquakes. Congress established NEHRP in 1977, and its early focus was on research that would lead to an improved understanding of why earthquakes occur and to an ability to predict their occurrence precisely. Congress most recently reauthorized NEHRP in 2004 (P.L. 108-360), and designated NIST as the lead agency, to create better synergy among the agencies and improve the program. Understanding has improved about why and where earthquakes occur; however, reliably predicting the precise date and time an earthquake will occur is not yet possible. Research may eventually lead to an ability to predict earthquakes, but the focus of NEHRP now has shifted towards improving the nation's ability to prepare for earthquakes and to minimize losses when an earthquake occurs."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33861
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