• House acts to reduce the impact of earthquakes, windstorms, and other natural disasters
WASHINGTON, DC, March 2, 2010 -- Today, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 3820, The Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act of 2010, by a vote of 335 to 50. H.R. 3820 advances research and development (R&D) in the area of hazard mitigation to help protect people and property from the damage caused by earthquakes, windstorms, and other natural disasters.
"The impact of natural hazards on communities can be devastating," stated bill cosponsor and House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). "This bill brings greater coordination to federal natural hazards R&D efforts. It directs the relevant agencies to develop a multi-hazards research agenda and identify where common research approaches are appropriate across different types of hazards. This will enable a research agenda where the lessons learned in one disaster can be applied to help prevent damage from another."
"As we saw last month in Haiti and just this weekend in Chile, earthquakes can strike without warning, causing massive damage and many casualties. Mitigation efforts, like advanced building codes, are crucial to preventing loss and injury," said bill author Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Chairman David Wu (D-OR). "The adoption of mitigation measures is the crucial last step in preventing losses from natural disasters. H.R. 3820 includes provisions to develop ways to cost-effectively retrofit existing structures and secure lifelines, as well as provisions for research to identify the best methods to encourage home owners, businesses, and communities to plan for natural disasters and adopt mitigation measures."
The bill reauthorizes the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, which was created in 1977 and has been responsible for the development of seismic codes and standards to enable buildings and other infrastructure to better withstand earthquakes. The reauthorization will allow the U.S. Geological Survey, FEMA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to continue their efforts to develop and promote earthquake mitigation measures. Specifically, this reauthorization addresses key challenges in earthquake mitigation, including developing methods to retrofit existing structures, securing infrastructure, and encouraging people in earthquake-prone areas to invest in preparedness and mitigation measures.
The bill also reauthorizes the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program, which was created in 2004 to study wind hazards and help develop building codes and practices to prevent damages caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, and other severe windstorms. The National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program continues to support FEMA, NSF, NIST, and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration in efforts to reduce damage from windstorms.
The House also passed H.Res.1097, to support the goals and ideals of National Engineers Week, passed by a vote of 382 to 0. The goal of National Engineers Week is to raise public awareness of the significant, positive contributions to society by engineers, and encourage students to become engineers.
"The goal of National Engineers Week is to raise public awareness of the significant, positive contributions to society by engineers, and encourage students to become engineers," said Gordon. "In order to maintain our competitiveness in the 21st century marketplace, we need to highlight the importance engineers play in our society and continue to invest in STEM education. National Engineers Week helps by raising public awareness of the significant, positive contributions to society by engineers, and encouraging students to become engineers."
"I remember the impact that visiting the Museum of Science and Industry had on me when I was young," said resolution author Research and Science Education Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL). "Those experiences spoke to me in a very direct and concrete way, and they helped spark my interest in the fields that eventually led me to get a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in engineering. By exposing more kids to the fascinating field of engineering, National Engineers Week opens their eyes to new possibilities and helps America to prepare for the future."
"As one of only a handful of engineers in Congress, Mr. Lipinski has been, and will continue to be, a strong advocate for engineers and engineering on the Science and Technology Committee and in Congress," stated Wu, who managed the resolution on the floor. "His resolution pledges that the House of Representatives will work with the engineering community to make sure that the creativity and contribution of that community can be expressed through research, development, standardization, education, and innovation."
For more about the Committee's work on hazard mitigation, please visit the Committee's website: science.house.gov.