CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, September 08, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 5309, the Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act of 2014, under a suspension of the rules. H.R. 5309 was introduced on July 31, 2014 by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
H.R. 5309 amends Section 3 of the Tsunami Warning and Education Act (33 U.S.C. 3201 et seq.), to expand the purposes of the Tsunami Warning and Education Act to: 1) enhance and modernize the existing U.S. Tsunami Warning System to increase accuracy of forecasts and warnings, improve coverage of tsunami detection assets, and reduce false alarms; 2) improve and develop standards and guidelines for mapping, modeling, and assessment efforts to improve tsunami detection, forecasting, notification, mitigation, response, outreach, and recovery; 3) improve research efforts related to improving tsunami detection; and 4) foster resilient communities in the face of tsunami and other coastal hazards. Moreover, this legislation modifies the Tsunami Forecasting and Warning Program by requiring the Program develop a tsunami warning system that: 1) is capable of forecasting tsunami, including arrival time and inundation estimates anywhere in the Pacific and Arctic Ocean regions; 2) is capable of forecasting and providing adequate warnings in areas of the Atlantic Ocean (including the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico); and 3) supports other international tsunami forecasting and warning efforts.
H.R. 5309 also requires the Administrator of the program support or maintain centers, as part of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, to support the tsunami warning system. These centers would be required to: continuously monitor data from monitoring stations and other stations; evaluate earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions that can generate tsunami; evaluate deep ocean buoy data and tidal monitoring stations; utilize models to predict tsunami arrival times; disseminate forecasts to Federal, State, and local government officials and the public; coordinate with the tsunami hazard mitigation program; and make data gathered under this Act available to researchers. The program is also directed under this legislation to coordinate with the National Weather Service, maintain a fail-safe warning capability, and develop uniform operational procedures for centers supported or maintained under the Act.
This legislation also modifies the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program to require it provide technical and financial assistance to stakeholders; integrate tsunami preparedness and mitigation programs; promote tsunami preparedness and resilience; support the development of regional hazard and risk assessments; and support the development of community-based outreach and education programs. The National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program is authorized, under this legislation, to undertake a number of activities to improve program integration, coordinate risk management training, and develop practical applications for existing or emerging technologies. Within 180 days of enactment, the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be required to submit a report to Congress on which authorities and activities would be needed to have the TsunamiReady program of the National Weather Service accredited by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.
H.R. 5309 requires the Administrator of NOAA to provide technical assistance and training to aid in the development of an international tsunami warning system. Moreover, the Administrator is required to designat3e the Ocean Exploration Advisory Working Group within the Science Advisory Board to serve as the Tsunami Science and Technology Advisory Panel, which will provide advice to the Administrator on matters related to tsunami science, technology, and preparedness. Every four years, the Administrator is required to submit a report to Congress on the findings and recommendations received by the Panel. Furthermore, within one year of enactment of this legislation, the Administrator would be required to submit a report to Congress of the progress made by the Tsunami Warning and Education Act. Finally, the bill requires the Administrator of NOAA to develop and carry out formal outreach activities to improve tsunami education and awareness and foster the development of resilient communities. H.R. 5309 authorizes $27 million for each of fiscal years 2015 through 2017 to carry out the functions of this Act.
“In the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, Congress passed the Tsunami Warning and Education Act (P.L. 109-424), to enhance and modernize the existing Pacific Tsunami Warning System to increase coverage, reduce false alarms, and increase the accuracy of forecasts and warnings, among other purposes.” This legislation led to the creation of additional Deep-Ocean Assessment and Report of Tsunamis (DART) detection buoys. This legislation attempts to improve upon current legislation in order to improve coordination of activities, data collection, and detection systems.
 Peter Folger, U.S. Tsunami Programs: A Brief Overview, Congressional Research Service (Mar. 18, 2011).
 See Id.
A CBO cost estimate is currently unavailable. This legislation authorizes $27 million for each of fiscal years 2015-2017, which is consistent with established levels.
For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.