National Landslide Preparedness Act Heads to President’s Desk

The Senate yesterday passed bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help communities prepare for and respond to landslides and other natural hazards, sending it to the President’s desk for signature. The Senate first passed S. 529, the National Landslide Preparedness Act, in July, and yesterday unanimously passed a modified version of the bill as H.R. 8810, which the House of Representatives passed and sent to the Senate last week.

Sens. Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., along with Sens. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., shepherded the bill through the Senate a second time. The legislation will improve emergency preparedness and planning by targeting key gaps in current science and mapping, which are critical to understanding landslide hazards and risks. The passage of this legislation is particularly timely in the wake of landslides that have impacted Southeast Alaska in recent weeks.

“Two young Alaskans remain missing after landslides devastated Haines earlier this month, which remains under threat of even more landslides,” Murkowski said. “The tragedy in Haines, the threat from the Barry Arm landslide in Prince William Sound, and the 2015 Sitka landslides are some recent real-world examples of why there needs to be a national strategy to prepare for, monitor, and respond to landslides. I’m glad that we can finally round out the suite of hazards programs and complement the great work already being done by our federal partners to address earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and avalanches.”

“Six years after the Oso landslide, everyone in the State of Washington remembers the devastating impacts landslides can have,” Cantwell said. “This bill would dramatically increase our use of LIDAR data needed to map, identify, and track landslide risk areas. Employing our best science and mapping technologies will help communities across our state save lives, safeguard property, and improve our emergency planning and response.”

The National Landslide Preparedness Act establishes a National Landslide Hazards Reduction Program at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to better identify and understand landslide risks, protect communities, save lives and property, and improve emergency preparedness.

The bill also codifies USGS’ 3D Elevation Program to update and coordinate the collection of elevation data across the country using enhanced, high-resolution surveys. Enhanced elevation data helps communities plan for and respond to natural hazards and provides critical data to inform decision-making for public safety, national security, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, and natural resource management.

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Murkowski is Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Cantwell is Ranking Member on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Related Issues: Energy