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Trump's Proposed Budget May Kill The Earthquake Early Warning Alert System Before It Even Begins

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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California's nascent still-gestating earthquake early warning system is facing a serious threat. The Trump administration's proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year eliminates federal funding for the system.

“It probably would kill the early warning system if we thought there were no more funding coming from the U.S. Geological Survey,” John Vidale, a seismology professor at the University of Washington said, according to the Los Angeles Times. He continued by specifying “The money we’ve received is essential.” The University of Washington one of the institutions working with the USGS to create the system

In addition to eliminating federal funds for the early warning system, the budget would also eliminate money for tsunami-monitoring stations in the ocean, and trim funds for advanced weather forecasting systems.

"Eliminating the $10 million/year that the government has been spending would stop the program and waste the $23 million that has already been invested," Dr. Lucy Jones of CalTech, another institution involved in the early earthquake warning system's development, wrote in a Facebook post. "The talented scientists and technicians that are working on the project now will go to other jobs, so their experience and expertise would be lost. Many life- and money-saving measures would not be available when the next earthquake strikes. ...Reducing the government's investment in science will make America less safe."

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The proposed statewide system is estimated to cost $40 million to develop, would require some 40 to 50 people to install the sensors, and $16 million annually to maintain. Such a system would provide warning of an incoming earthquake 30 seconds or more before it hits a given location.

USGS declined to provide any further comment.

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