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Corzine, Pallone Introduce Legislation to Create Global Tsunami Early Warning System

February 17, 2005
Press Release

Washington, D.C. --- U.S. Sen. Jon S. Corzine (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today introduced comprehensive legislation in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives respectively that establishes a global tsunami warning system and calls for long-term assistance and relief to victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami in South Asia.

The New Jersey lawmakers' companion bills authorize $38 million in the next fiscal year for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to expand worldwide the successful tsunami early warning system now in place in the Pacific. The legislation would create warning systems to include coastlines along the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, as well as the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Mediterranean and European waters. After the system is set up, the legislation would provide $32 million annually to maintain the worldwide system, making it the only legislation that authorizes continual annual funds for a global system.

Corzine and Pallone's legislation also directs NOAA to work with coastal states, including New Jersey, to educate the American public on tsunami preparedness and to implement evacuation procedures. In addition, it calls for the U.S. to work with and assist other nations to implement the necessary early warning technology and to provide assistance with the creation and dissemination of evacuation plans in those countries.

"It is inexcusable that no adequate tsunami warning system exists which could have mitigated the human tragedy which struck Southeast Asia and Africa earlier this year," said Corzine.  "Millions of people along the Atlantic Seaboard, including the residents of New Jersey, do not have benefit of a sophisticated tsunami-warning system which could save countless lives in the event of a tsunami in the Atlantic.  I am proud to join with Congressman Pallone on this legislation which will provide NOAA with the funds necessary to build a global tsunami warning system and to save countless lives in the future."

"NOAA is ready to build this global system, all it's waiting for is a funding commitment that meets all of its needs," Pallone said. "Our legislation gives NOAA all the necessary tools to fully create a global warning system, and keep it running in the years to come. Congress must enact this legislation to protect all coastal communities around the world from future tsunami disasters."

Corzine and Pallone commended President Bush for his emergency supplemental request o f $950 million, but they think additional funds may be needed down the line. To that end, the legislation also calls for the U.S. to pledge the necessary humanitarian assistance and relief funds to the tsunami-ravaged nations in South Asia and East Asia, and requires regular reports from the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to Congress on relief

efforts. This year, USAID is required to send quarterly reports to Congress on relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the region, and then on a biannual basis during 2006. If additional funds are needed in the future, Congress must act to appropriate the necessary funds.

"When Senator Corzine and I traveled to South Asia last month, we were heartened by the outpouring of support and assistance the devastated nations were receiving," Pallone said. "We both applaud President Bush's commitment of $950 million to continue relief efforts and to begin the reconstruction of the affected communities, but if more aid is needed down the line, we have to be prepared to provide whatever's necessary."

In January, Corzine and Pallone traveled to several of the hardest hit nations in South Asia to see firsthand the devastation caused by the tsunami. This legislation is the result of their meetings and discussions with U.S. and international relief organizations regarding the continuing needs of the nations in that region.