Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Impacts of proposed cuts to national earthquake hazards program

On June 28, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved a budget for the USGS that will cut the USGS Natural Hazards budget to $107.4 million, which is $27.1 million below the FY 2012 enacted level of $134.5 million or a
20% reduction.  The Earthquake Hazards Program, which is part of the Natural Hazards line-item was also cut by 20% ($11 million).  For more details
(including budget actions on other USGS programs), see  http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis112/appropsfy2013_interior.htmlhttp://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis112/appropsfy2013_interior.html
Kris Pankow, Associate Director of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, briefed us on what this will mean to seismic monitoring in the U.S.   This level of reduction takes the Earthquake Hazards Program to pre-Loma Prieta days (1989 "World Series" quake in the Bay Area) in absolute dollars and to pre-NEHRP (National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program - which includes a federal-state cooperative) days when considering inflation.  Kris warns that this is potentially a huge blow to the National Seismic System and to earthquake science in the U.S.

Kris is the Intermountain West rep on the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) and has been talking with the USGS which is currently preparing revised budgets and assessing the impact of such cuts.  While the extent of the impact is not yet known, she says potential outcomes include, in the short term: zero funding of 2013 USGS NEHRP external research grants; major cuts to (and possibly elimination of some) externally funded regional seismic and geodetic networks; and cuts to internal USGS seismic networks.

AZGS, which runs the Arizona Broadband Seismic Network, asked the USGS four years ago for help in running our state network, but was turned down due to lack of funding at that time.  So, the federal cuts will not directly affect the Arizona seismic network, but we are continuing to look for funding to keep the system running.  We get no state funds to support it.  A generous anonymous corporate donation is funding the Arizona network this year.

1 comment:

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