Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) announced they’ve introduced legislation that would reauthorize and strengthen the nation’s tsunami detection and warning systems and continue investing in research to better prepare coastal communities.

The Tsunami Warning, Education and Research Act of 2015 would strengthen the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) tsunami warning system and advance new research related to improving tsunami detection, forecasting, notification and response. The bill is scheduled for a Thursday hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

“Every second matters when it comes to tsunami preparedness and protecting our coastal communities,” Cantwell said. “That’s why I’ve introduced this legislation to ensure we have state-of-the-art detection and warning systems to protect lives and property. It’s especially critical in Washington state, where we border the Cascadia fault and more than 300,000 people live in a tsunami danger zone.”

“In the event of the next tsunami, adequate warning for Alaska’s coastal communities is essential,” Sullivan said. “This legislation will ensure that important monitoring centers, vital research advancements and community based mitigation programs continue in a cost effective manner.”

“Earthquakes in the Pacific have shown us that our tsunami warning system is more important now than ever. We must do all that we can to be prepared for an event that affords only minutes or hours for people to respond,” Schatz said. “This legislation will strengthen our tsunami detection, forecast, warning, research, and mitigation program to better protect Hawai‘i’s communities and save lives.”

Washington state’s coastal economy supports 165,000 jobs and produces $30 billion in economic activity each year. Nationwide, more than 120 million live on or near coastlines.

The Tsunami Warning, Education and Research Act of 2015 would:

· Advance new research related to improving tsunami detection, forecasting, notification and response;

· Enhance tsunami preparedness for ports and harbors by directing the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program to evaluate and recommend procedures for communication and response plans;

· Ensure supercomputing resources are available for tsunami forecast models and that guidelines and metrics for evaluating and improving tsunami models are disseminated;

· Direct NOAA to conduct a readiness assessment for areas at-risk for a near-shore tsunami such as the Cascadia fault;

· Require tsunami warning centers to work with local weather forecasting offices to ensure timely delivery of warnings.

Cantwell has been a leader in ensuring Pacific Northwest coastlines are prepared for tsunamis. In 2006, Cantwell pushed for passage of the Tsunami Warning and Education Act (TWEA) (P.L. 109-424) that enabled Washington state to improve tsunami evacuation routes, update maps, and increase the number of DART warning buoys worldwide. Cantwell also secured funding to purchase additional warning sirens for coastal areas in Washington state.