Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) today commended the decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to grant a waiver from the “enhanced geotargeting” requirements when an earthquake early warning is being sent.
The FCC is developing enhancements to the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system to improve alerts during wildfires. However, those changes could have had the unintended consequence of delaying alert times for earthquakes, according to a June 21 letter from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to the FCC.
“I’m pleased that the FCC has granted a waiver to mobile service providers when they send earthquake early warnings issued by USGS,” said Senator Feinstein. “The ShakeAlert system is designed to give people precious seconds to get to safety ahead of a major earthquake. While I welcome the FCC’s efforts to update the Wireless Emergency Alert system, particularly in relation to wildfires, those updates must not hinder the ability to send out earthquake warnings as quickly as possible.”
“The 4.6 magnitude earthquake in Washington in July provided a reminder of the potential for a deadly earthquake along the Cascadia fault. This decision will help ensure the ShakeAlert system can provide rapid and effective early warning alerts, which will save lives and infrastructure across Washington and the West Coast. I applaud this decision and thank the FCC for listening to the scientists and stakeholders that are working to keep our communities resilient and prepared,” said Senator Cantwell.
In July of this year, Senators Feinstein and Cantwell, along with 18 other members of Congress, sent a letter urging the FCC to work with USGS to ensure earthquake alerts would not be negatively affected by proposed changes to the WEA system.