Earthquakes: Risk, Detection, Warning, and Research [March 18, 2011]   [open pdf - 1MB]

"The United States faces the possibility of large economic losses from earthquake-damaged buildings and infrastructure. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has estimated that earthquakes cost the United States, on average, over $5 billion per year. California, Oregon, and Washington account for nearly $4.1 billion (77%) of the U.S. total estimated average annualized loss. California alone accounts for most of the estimated annualized earthquake losses for the nation. A single large earthquake, however, can cause far more damage than the average annual estimate. The 1994 Northridge (CA) earthquake caused as much as $26 billion (in 2005 dollars) in damage and was one of the costliest natural disasters to strike the United States. One study of the damage caused by a hypothetical magnitude 7.8 earthquake along the San Andreas Fault in southern California projected as many as 1,800 fatalities and more than $200 billion in economic losses. An issue for the 112th Congress is whether existing federally supported programs aimed at reducing U.S. vulnerability to earthquakes are an adequate response to the earthquake hazard. […] Legislation was introduced during the 111th Congress (H.R. 3820) that would have made changes to the program and would have authorized appropriations totaling $906 million over five years for NEHRP. Ninety percent of the funding would have been designated for the USGS [United State Geological Survey] and NSF [National Science Foundation], and the remainder for FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] and NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology]. The bill passed the House but not the Senate. Similar legislation will likely be introduced in the 112th Congress."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33861
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